$2,500 reward offered in case of abused Hanover cat

Liz Evans Scolforo

The person or people who tortured a tiger calico cat found wandering in Hanover over the holidays needs to be identified before they hurt another animal — or a person, according to the founder of an animal-protection organization that's now offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Someone twisted wire tightly around this Hanover cat's neck and repeatedly beat her in the head with something like a hammer. Dubbed Faith, the can could not survive her head wounds. (Photo courtesy of Heavenly Paws Animal Shelter)

"This is truly a sociopath. ... The person or persons who did this needs to have some sort of psychiatric treatment. It's beyond any normal person's, or sane person's, actions," said Dr. Elliot Katz. "That's why it's likely to be repeated again, whether it's to a cat or a woman or a child."

In 1983 Katz, a retired veterinarian, founded In Defense of Animals, an international animal-protection organization based in California and dedicated to protecting animals' rights, welfare and habitats, according to the organization.

He said he was alerted to the case of Faith, first reported by The York Dispatch on Jan. 24, and felt a reward might help investigators solve the case.

"I felt that maybe a reward would be a good incentive for someone to come forward," Katz said. "We had to take another step in trying to find out who actually caused this trauma (to Faith). There's got to be so much anger involved. ... It's one of the worst types of violence I've seen in many years."

Massive head wound: When Faith was found Dec. 30, she had suffered a massive head wound and had wire twisted tightly around her neck. Her injuries were so profound she had to be euthanized, according to Ann Behrendt, president of Heavenly Paws Animal Shelter, who said at least Faith died "loved, warm and peacefully."

Heavenly Paws volunteer Christina Carroll is the person who rescued Faith, named her and took her to Paws Animal Hospital in Hanover.

Someone twisted wire tightly around this Hanover cat's neck and repeatedly beat her in the head with something like a hammer. Dubbed Faith, the can could not survive her head wounds. (Photo courtesy of Heavenly Paws Animal Shelter)

A necropsy — or animal autopsy — at the York County SPCA determined Faith suffered several skull fractures and cracks, caused by repeated blunt-force trauma, according to SPCA Executive Director Melissa Smith. Faith also suffered cuts on her head.

The SPCA veterinarian who performed the necropsy said the head wounds could have been caused by several strikes from a hammer, or something akin to a hammer, Smith said.

Nicole Lawrence, the SPCA's Humane Society police officer, is investigating and will file misdemeanor animal-cruelty charges against those responsible, if the abuser or abusers can be identified, Smith said.

What happened: Carroll received a call Dec. 30 from an acquaintance who saw Faith wandering in the area of Ruth Avenue, not far from the intersection of Broadway.

She picked up the cat, but was unable to cut the wire that was tightly twisted around Faith's neck. The wire was so tight the cat had trouble swallowing and breathing, according to Behrendt.

"You could barely get your pinky finger under the wire," Carroll said. "I took her to the Penn Township Fire Department and they cut the wire off for me."

Rescuers unable to save tortured cat found wandering in Hanover

From there, Carroll drove Faith to Paws Animal Hospital in Hanover, where they prescribed antibiotics and sent her home with Carroll, but the cat's condition only deteriorated.

"She was pacing a lot ... walking in circles," Carroll said, including repeatedly walking through her food and water bowls. "In my heart I knew she wasn't going to get better."

The next day, New Year's Eve, Carroll took Faith back to the animal hospital, where the extent of Faith's brain injuries were determined and she was euthanized.

Heavenly Paws asked the York County SPCA to perform the necropsy and investigate the cruelty, according to Smith, who said the two nonprofit agencies have a working relationship.

Who owned Faith? Faith had no microchip and no identification tag, Smith said. She was not underweight and appeared not to have been spayed.

But Behrendt said she was friendly, which seems to indicate Faith was someone's pet.

"This is something that, sadly, we're seeing so often," Behrendt said of cat cruelty. "We just hope to get justice for this cat, to find out who did it."

Heavenly Paws is a no-kill, all-volunteer organization based in North Codorus Township that's been in operation since 2004. For more information, visit www.heavenlypawsshelter.com.

To learn more about In Defense of Animals, visit the organization's website, which states its runs animal-rescue facilities in India, Africa and Mississippi, and works with community officials to change city and county animal-cruelty ordinances.

Anyone with information about who owned Faith or who is responsible for her death is urged to call Humane Society Police Officer Nicole Lawrence at (717) 764-6109, ext. 127, and leave a message.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.