Charges against teen accused of burning cat are dropped

Charges against a Shady Cove teenager arrested for allegedly setting a cat on fire in December have been dropped, Jackson County District Attorney's Office announced today.

The 17-year-old boy was taken into custody Feb. 10, cited for first-degree animal abuse and lodged at the Jackson County Juvenile Community Justice Building.

A tipster told police that the teen had bragged about injuring the cat, but in bragging didn't give any details about the incident. When investigators talked to the teen, he denied injuring the cat, prosecutors said in today's news release.

Deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff's Department originally suspected the boy did not act alone in harming the stray cat, which had hung around an Eagle Point neighborhood where residents fed it.

The orange cat showed up Dec. 22 with severe burns on his face, ears and beneath his tail. Police concluded the fire had been started purposefully by a liquid accelerant, as the cat's injuries weren't the sort that would happen if a pet were trapped in a structure fire.

However, Jackson County sheriff's investigators weren't able to place the teen in the area where the abuse was thought to have occurred.

The teen presented deputies with an alibi for the time of the abuse. Investigators were never able to disprove the alibi, the prosecutors said.

Oregon law demands that a confession must be corroborated by independent evidence. A confession without any details that weren't available to the public is not enough to proceed on a juvenile petition, deputy district attorney Brandon Thueson said in the news release.

The case remains under investigation by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

The cat, whom caregivers named Meshach for a biblical character who escaped death after being thrown into a furnace, has recovered and been adopted by a woman in Talent.

— Staff reports

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