UPDATE: From Local 3 News: The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and the Cleveland Police Department are investigating a viral video showing animal abuse.
We have to warn you, the video might be hard to watch.
In the video, you can see at least six people standing around a cage with a cat inside. At one point, one girl sprays the cat with a water hose and it lets out a loud screech.
“Why? Why are you doing this?” wondered Cheryl Dunson, the secretary of the Bradley County S.P.C.A. “I was just mortified. And then, when I saw people laughing and thinking it was funny, I said to myself ‘people need to find a better way of entertaining themselves that’s more compassionate.'”
The six-second video includes the caption ‘we caught a cat.’
“There may be some things going on there that we simply cannot see,” said Stephen Hatchett, a criminal defense attorney based in Athens, Tennessee. “It may just well be behavior that people would not necessarily approve of, but it doesn’t necessarily make it criminal.”
Police said they are investigating the video, but have not yet figured out where it was recorded. They also have not found the cat and don’t know its condition.
“Let’s say there’s no harm to the animal, no I couldn’t see criminal charges being brought,” said Hatchett.
This is the fourth animal cruelty case out of Bradley County Local 3 News has reported on in the last six months.
In May, two teenagers were arrested. One hit a dog repeatedly with a stick until it died while the other recorded the whole thing.
In August, two boxes of puppies and kittens were left at the Bradley County S.P.C.A. on separate days. One box was left in a storm, the other was left in severe heat.
“They need to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion,” said Dunson.
Police likely need to determine the cat’s condition in order for criminal charges to be filed in this case, Hatchett added. He also said that could be difficult for law enforcement, making the video more of an ethical issue as opposed to a legal one.
“Having an animal in a cage can’t go anywhere and you’re hitting it with a water hose, it’s not necessarily behavior you’d expect people to film,” said Hatchett.
If you know anything about this case, you are asked to contact the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office at 423-728-7300.