Teen charged with animal abuse for burning cat

A Shady Cove teenager is in custody on suspicion of setting a cat on fire in December.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office arrested the 17-year-old boy on a charge of first-degree aggravated animal abuse, a class-C felony, at 12:50 p.m. today. His name is not being released, but he is being detained in Jackson County’s Juvenile Community Justice Building, police said.

Officials wouldn’t comment on how they tracked down the suspect, as the case is still under investigation.

Police said the suspect may not have acted alone.

“There could be other people involved,” said sheriff’s office spokeswoman Andrea Carlson. “At this point it’s definitely a possibility we’re looking into.”

There is still a $5,000 reward available that will be given following the arrest and prosecution of parties responsible for burning an orange tabby that caregivers later dubbed Meshach. The fund is comprised of donations from the Sanctuary One Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of the United States.

The investigation stems from a Dec. 22 incident in Eagle Point. Residents Michael and Summer Finn had been feeding a stray cat that kept showing up on their front porch. On Dec. 22, the cat ran inside their home when they opened the door. He had severe burns on his face and under his tail and his eyes were swollen almost completely shut. Police said they believe the fire was set intentionally with a liquid accelerant because the paws were not burned and the cat had no respiratory issues, which it would have had received from a house fire.

The Finns transported Meshach to Jackson County Animal Control officials, who transported it to the Best Friends Animal Hospital in Talent. Veterinarians cleaned the wounds, administered antibiotics and spread ointment on the burned areas. They came up with a name for the burned cat there.

Meshach was later transported to Sanctuary One Animal Shelter, where officials say he is thriving.

— Ryan Pfeil

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