No charges against man who drowned cat in Lake Waukomis

LAKE WAUKOMIS, Mo. - Thomas Newhouse told police he killed his cat by holding it underwater until it was dead, and Platte Co. Prosecutor Eric Zahnd says it is completely legal.

The drowning happened July 14 behind Newhouse's Lake Waukomis home.

Tamara Judds lives two doors down and was on her back patio with her 4-year-old granddaughter and saw the whole thing.

"I saw him walk down with a little pet carrier, and he leaned over the side of the dock and held it under water for about five minutes," Judds said, "That's sick. He's a sick individual."

Judds called police, and according to the incident report, Newhouse told officers he killed the cat because it had scratched one of his family members.

Judds feels that's not a valid reason to put down a cat, and even it were, she feels there are other ways to do so.

"Call your vet, have him euthanized," Judds said, "It might cost you $50, but you do it in a humane way. Not until the cage stops shaking five minutes later under the water."

41 Action News tried contacting Newhouse for an explanation, but none has been given.

Zahnd's office released a statement Tuesday explaining why no charges are being filed.

"Given that Newhouse could have easily taken the cat to a veterinarian to be medically euthanized, Zahnd said he found Newhouse's method of killing the animal disheartening. However, Missouri's animal abuse law, which prohibits killing animals in certain ways or intentionally causing injury or suffering to animals, does not apply to the '"killing of an animal by the owner"' or the owner's agent."

Zahnd said he would not be filing any charges despite an enormous public outcry calling for him to file a class D felony charge.

"People are definitely outraged," animal advocate Julie Pendarvis said, "Thomas Newhouse tortured and abused that cat."

Pendarvis is organizing a petition, and so far she has more than 1,300 signatures, including 17 percent of the Lake Waukomis community.

Together they're contacting legislators with hopes of making animal abuse laws stricter and clearer.

"A lot of these statutes are designed to protect people with the livestock," Pendarvis said, "We really need to separate the companion animals from that and define what's ok and what's not because it's very unclear."

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