By Natalie Caula
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- An unlikely victim, police say the family cat was killed. The cat's owner says it was no accident, but a malicious and horrible act.
Mike Riffert says his friend found his cat Judy. The cat had been missing for a day or so.
"She called me hysterical. I'm telling her it's going to be okay. I'm coming home to the house now. She said, 'You don't understand the way I found her dead,'" he said.
Riffert showed us where his friend found their feline, behind a condemned house. Judy was left dead on a piece of rebar. Police say a veterinarian's autopsy shows she was impaled to death.
"It's sickening. It's completely sickening," Riffert said.
Riffert quickly reported it to police, not only horrified by what it appeared someone had done to his cat, but what it could mean.
"There's somebody out there who's capable of doing something like this. I'm thinking about my kids first," Riffert said.
The man police say is a person of interest in this case is now behind bars, but was arrested on unrelated charges. Meanwhile, police have taken his clothes to examine. If charged, the man faces an animal cruelty charge, but even if that happens, Riffert says it's not enough.
"If you look at the law, it's ridiculous. It's a lousy fine and a slap on the hand," he said.
That's something Pet Helpers' Carol Linville has been fighting to change. Cases like this one has groups pushing for higher penalties in animal cruelty convictions.
"It's a coalition of animal groups across the state, and Charleston is a big player in that as well," Linville said.
Riffert knows the change can't alter the past, but hopes it can save other animals from the same fate.
The state proposal would increase the fine to $1,000 and jail time to 90 days. It already passed the state Senate and supporters hope it passes the House this year.
Reward being offered
Pet Helpers is currently offering a $500 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. If you have information, you are asked to contact the Folly Beach Police Department at 843-588-2433 or Carol Linville, Pet Helpers at 843-795-1110. All information will be kept confidential.