Mutilated kitten found near Madera cemetery

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A weeks-old kitten was found mutilated and tortured near a gravesite in the North Valley. (KFSN)

A weeks-old kitten was found mutilated and tortured near a gravesite in the North Valley.

"I've been here 15 years and never seen anything like that," said director Kirsten Gross of the Madera County Animal Shelter.

On Monday morning, Gross said a mutilated kitten was discovered near burnt candles at the Arbor Vitae Cemetery in Madera.

"It was near death but not dead yet; it was still alive, still breathing, but not moving," said Gross. They immediately euthanized the animal.

Police investigators aren't calling this a ritualistic killing yet since candles and freshly dug graves are commonplace at cemeteries. For now, it's an animal cruelty case. But Gross believes there could be a more sinister explanation.

"It's different because cruelty usually stems from a lack of caring and ignorance; not all the time is it malicious and deviant," said Gross.

Fresno criminologist Dr. Eric Hickey said ritualistic sacrifices are rare in the Central Valley, but they can happen.

"Sometimes we get what I refer to as sort of self-styled Satanists -- people who on their own orchestrate certain things. They take pieces of different types of religions and put them together," said Dr. Hickey.

A nonprofit organization is now offering a $500 reward to put whoever is responsible for the killing of the kitten in jail.
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