Group of Boys Beat Beloved Family Cat to Death in Pennsylvania
When we see headlines such as these, we wonder how cruel and heartless humans are becoming. This story will do its best to deal with the facts and avoid any unmerited accusations, difficult as that may be. As with many stories, there is another side and the word “alleged” usually comes into play. The place of the alleged crime was a small town of some 10,000 people in the southeastern part of the state. The size of the town can be deceiving when it comes to the crime rate, which it surpasses when compared to the surrounding areas. According to Wikipedia, it has a crime rate six times higher for violent crimes (murder, robbery and assault, not including sex crimes), and 24 times higher when it came to property crimes (including arson). But this is not a sprawling urban area. The total land area of the town is a mere .84 of a square mile. To get a sense of how small that area is, the city of New York is just over 300 square miles. The victim, a one year old cat named Muu, was owned by Jamie Walls who claims she had witnessed the cat’s last breaths. Humane Society investigators are treating the incident as worthy of investigation, so there will be more information in the days ahead. For now, there is enough information to get a picture of what has happened.
The suspects are a group of children approximately between the ages of 9 and 12. According to Jamie and her husband, they noticed the children roaming the area and took Muu to a nearby backyard. The witness to the abuse and death is the couple’s 7 year old daughter, who was peeking through a hole in the fence. She claims that one of the children was holding Muu by the neck and violently shaking it. If you are looking for charges to be files against the children, you will be disappointed. An Investigating officer, Ron Riggle, confirmed this though he did not deny the possibility of future animal cruelty charges. As a matter of state law, back in 2017 an updated law was passed to penalize people who subject animals to cruelty, including “Aggravated cruelty causing serious injury or death is now a felony carrying a penalty up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.” This is only part of the new law and it is not clear whether children under the age of 16 are eligible to face the penalties included in the law. What qualifies this act under the new law is the testimony of Jamie Wells, who said that when she found Muu he was strung up like a piñata and beaten.
But Muu is not the only victim of the story. Their 7 year old daughter personally witnessed the abuse, and it is not clear what long term psychological effects it will have on her in the future. Her parents are wisely sheltering her from the prying eyes of news reporters, and it is clear that the investigating officer will be talking with her when the time is right. The fact that Jamie Wells called Muu a family cat indicates that her daughter and Muu had a close relationship. All of this evidence leads to the more important question of what should be done with minors who subject animals to such cruelty? There is plenty of evidence that connects the future actions of serial killers to their decision to be cruel to animals at a young age. Holding the parents accountable will not change the behavior of their children, particularly if one or both of the parents are sitting in prison. Foster homes are, according to many, an even worse situation to put the children in. Punishment of animal cruelty crimes for minors seems to be elusive.
There are those who make the case that the cat should not have been allowed to roam free – even to a neighbor’s back yard. The absence of the opportunity would have avoided the tragedy. But the reality is that this same group of children would have found another victim to torture. Their attitude towards animals would not have changed. On the other hand, when considering the town of Darby, maybe the only thing to do to prevent your pet from being abused is to keep them inside and always have them in sight when they are outdoors.
This story, the facts, and the possible solutions are unsettling to say the least. We can point at the children of Darby, but there are many other tragedies that make the news involving children and animals from around the country and around the world. One question is where do these types of children learn their behavior from? One parent of an accused child said, “the cat had gotten into his yard and his son threw it over the fence.”
When looking carefully at what the parent said, how is it teaching any type of moral values when the answer to an invading one year old cat is to throw it over the fence like a baseball? There is no indication the cat was violent or threatening, though sometimes stray cats will exhibit exactly that kind of behavior. Maybe the father said what he did to avoid any potential contact with the law. There is no indication that this family had any pets.
Cat and animal lovers will be at a loss for words to describe what has transpired. Jamie Walls is left without any legal recourse, and has suffered the loss of a family member. A 7 year old girl will have to undergo some type of therapy to determine any possible psychological trauma. It seems avoiding Darby, and places like it, is the only possible solution to this problem.