By BRIAN WALKER
COEUR d'ALENE — Local residents and business owners hope the $5,750 they have pledged for a reward leads to the conviction of a suspect in a cat abuse case that has shocked the community.
A cat that was apparently dunked in diesel oil was brought to Alpine Animal Hospital by a good Samaritan on Saturday. It was found in the area of Montana Avenue and 13th Street in Coeur d'Alene.
The cat, which had deep cuts on his neck consistent with a noose, and oil on its lungs, had to be put down despite several hours spent to save it. It did not have any owner identification.
An anonymous Athol woman's $500 reward to find the suspect on Wednesday spurred six other residents to make pledges on Thursday totaling $5,250.
Jim Strathdee, who owns Atlas Storage, pledged $2,500.
"I hope it brings some action on the case," he said. "If anybody treated an animal this way, they don't need to be walking on the street. This reflects negatively on the county. If anybody does this to an animal, it may not be long before something is done to a human being."
Other pledges were made by: Jim Zimmerman, who lives in the Hayden area, $1,000; an anonymous Hayden woman, $500; an anonymous Coeur d'Alene man, $500; Dashco Conoco, Rathdrum, $500; Jim Huston, Post Falls, $250.
Zimmerman said he has been a cat lover since he was 2 and was "sickened" about the case.
"Somebody knows something but they're just afraid of what (the suspect) will do," Zimmerman said. "Hopefully the person will be caught — and not just have their hand slapped."
Kevin Randles, owner of Dashco, said the case is "outrageous and heartbreaking."
"I'd really like to see the suspect caught," he said.
The cat's body temperature was so low it didn't register on the thermometer. The temperature was below 93 degrees; the normal is 101.5.
Clinic workers gave the black cat two baths, IV fluids, antibiotics and pain medication. However, the cat still had abnormal breathing and seizures. Employees said the stench from the diesel on the cat was so bad they could barely stand it.
The animal was found in the same vicinity as a cat who took a 4.5-inch blow dart to the face last May in the area of North Eighth Street and East Birch Avenue. That cat survived. Police have not linked the two cases.
Coeur d'Alene Police said this is the only recent animal abuse case the department has investigated.
Anyone with information is urged to contact police at 769-2320.