A Springfield couple is mourning the loss of their cat, Camus. They said someone doused the cat in lighter fluid and set it on fire.
The cats owners, who call it a sadistic crime, believe it happened Monday morning on West 9th Street. They found scorched grass and a Publix-brand lighter fluid bottle on the side of their home.
"This degree of violence is murder and shows a lack of respect for all life," the cat's owner, Adam Arendell, wrote to News4Jax. "Camus was a sweet and friendly cat; she was a part of our family and we'll forever regret not bringing her inside that day."
Arendell said police sent a crime-scene unit to gather evidence and are working hard on finding who did this, but no arrests have been made. The family is offering a $600 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services leader is concerned about the incident.
"Anytime that animals suffer and lose their life at the hands of human beings, of course it goes against everything that we work for," said director Nikki Harris. "Seeing animals lose their life with intention from other people is really disturbing to us."
Harris recommended bringing animals inside, if possible.
Residents in the area are very emotional about it and worried about other cats.
"That is ridiculous," said neighbor Silas Reed. "I mean, that doesn't even make any sense. That is just a senseless crime."
Arendell said he appreciated "the wonderful Springfield community for the support."
"All we want is the person or people involved off the street," Arendell wrote. "This act shows the mentality of this person and what will likely lead to more violence and murder to humans."
News4Jax's crime analyst Gil Smith agrees, and said neighbors need take this crime seriously and be on high alert for suspicious activity.
"We are talking about cruelty to animals," Smith said. "It is a third-degree felony, and in these situations, especially if this is a child who is doing this, they usually go on to commit other crimes against people as they become older."
Area animal advocates also expressed their concern after learning about the feline's gruesome death.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of this horrible case of violence towards an animal,” said Dr. Christian Broadhurst, senior staff veterinarian at Clay Humane. “Animal cruelty is rarely a single, isolated incident and people who abuse animals often escalate to hurt humans. It is imperative that anyone who has information about the abuse of this cat or any other animal contact the police immediately.”
Anyone with information about the crime should call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.