A little cat from Sarnia has galvanized people around the world to speak out against animal cruelty.
Almost three months after the cat named Joe was found bloodied on Lakeshore Road, an online petition demanding stiffer penalties for people who hurt animals has more than 25,000 signatures. The supporters live as far away as the UK, the Middle East and South America.
Others from California, Georgia and Australia contacted The Journal last week about Joe, who is recovering at Blue Cross Animal Hospital
Many of them want jail time and stiffer fines for animal cruelty convictions.
“To me, it’s the same as child abuse. To stop extreme cruelty, you need an extreme penalty,” says Deb Abrams of Sarnia.
“I believe someone held that cat while it was shot in the head 17 times. These things have to stop,” she said.
“We have cats and we love animals,” said John Dontas of Sarnia. “We believe someone needs to speak for them.”
Two men, aged 19 and 20, have been charged with numerous counts of animal cruelty in connection with Joe’s case. The 19-year-old makes his next court appearance April 23.
Dontas said if the men are convicted, he doubts the courts will impose a severe enough sentence.
“We just want to do something about it,” added Alison Balics, who travelled with her 11-year-old grandson Nick Balics from Wallaceburg to participate in a recent protest at the Sarnia courthouse.
“I asked Nick’s school if he could have the day off to come and they thought it was a good idea,” she said. “It’s pretty sad when something like this happens and he wanted to be part of the protest.”
“I want to do something about it,” added Nick. “Beating on an animal is the same as beating on a person.”
Scott Spinks, a seasonal worker at the city’s compost site, and his son Scott Spinks Jr. helped organize the protest.
“We’re not going to stop our fight,” Spinks Sr. said. “We think the law should give out five-year sentences and a $10,000 fine for this kind of thing.”
Joe continues to convalesce after 16 of the 17 pellets were removed, along with a damaged eye.
Two women from Chatham joined the 35 demonstrators standing in a cold drizzle.
“We keep hearing about more and more horrific crimes done to animals,” said Mary Najdzion. “And the only punishment they get is to sit at home for a few weeks.
“It’s not enough.”
“The people who do these things have problems and going to jail isn’t enough,” Najdzion added. “What’s the sense of going to jail if their brains are soggy with drugs and alcohol.
“They need to get rehabilitation. They need help.”
– Cathy Dobson