LEBANON, Tenn. --
There's a warning for an entire community, especially pet owners. Someone set fire to a cat, and deputies said the offender is still at large.
It happened Wednesday night in the Cedars of Lebanon Park community, and the man who called 911 said all he saw was a ball of fire.
"It just looked like something running down the fence line to me and then it kept jumping around and flopping," JD Buckman said.
Buckman and his brother were sitting outside Wednesday night when they saw flames.
“I thought it looked like an animal running, and he thought it was a piece of paper that blew from a fire,” Buckman said.
But when they got closer, they realized it was a cat.
“The cat was yelping. It was just screaming for its life,” Buckman said.
In its attempt to escape, the cat had gotten stuck in the fence. Buckman called 911.
Sara Felmlee with the Wilson County Disaster Animal Response Team was called to take the cat to the animal hospital.
“What I noticed right away was the smell. When the cat was in the car, it was burning flesh, burning hair. It was meowing loudly,” Felmlee said.
Investigators determined that it wasn’t an accident.
“It was severe, and it was very distressing to see, especially since someone deliberately did this. This was mallicious. This was evil. This is someone who poured an accelerant on a cat and lit it on fire,” said Felmlee.
Second- and third-degree burns covered more than half of the cat's body. Because of the severity of the burns, the cat had to be euthanized.
“I hope there's a conviction, because people who do this don’t stop at cats. They hurt people,” said Felmlee.
Police said that the charge in this case would be aggravated animal cruelty cruelty, which is a felony charge.
A detective spent Friday interviewing neighbors in the area. Anyone who has information about the case is asked to call the Wilson County Sheriff's Department.
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