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Humane Rescue Alliance investigates second animal sexual abuse case in less than two weeks

The Humane Rescue Alliance is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for allegedly sexually abusing a 3-month-old kitten.

Owen, the Kitten:

On Wednesday, Aug. 19, an animal control officer with HRA responded to a call from a concerned member of the public about an injured cat near the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in NE DC. On scene, the ACO found a critically-injured, 3-month-old kitten, who they named Owen.

Veterinarians at HRA examined Owen and determined his pelvis was broken in two places and found extensive injuries to the rectal area, indicating he had been sexually abused. Owen was so badly injured that he couldn’t walk, urinate or defecate on his own. It was clear he was in incredible pain, despite attempts to manage it.

His condition progressively worsened that evening, so he was transferred to Friendship Hospital for Animals for overnight monitoring and care. Veterinarians at FHA discovered Owen had a partial urethral tear causing urine to leak into his surrounding pelvic tissue and abdominal cavity, which was life-threatening. Due to the trauma Owen suffered, veterinarians were unable to place a urinary catheter to try to stop the urine from leaking to his muscle tissue and abdominal cavity, despite numerous attempts and with multiple catheter types.

While HRA routinely rehabilitates animals with severe medical injuries, there was no medical treatment, including surgery, that could have saved Owen’s life due to the extent of his injuries and how badly he had been brutalized. Both FHA and HRA did everything possible for Owen. Despite exploring every possible avenue of medical intervention, Owen had suffered from too much damage that could not be repaired. The difficult decision was made that humane euthanasia was the most compassionate option for Owen.

Luna, the Puppy:

Owen is the second young animal HRA has rescued who had been sexually abused in less than 10 days, though evidence does not support the cases being related.

On Tuesday, Aug. 11, HRA responded to a call about a female puppy, named Luna, who was apparently abandoned near Fort Dupont Park in SE DC. HRA’s animal control officers found Luna unable to stand and with multiple injuries, including those consistent with sexual abuse. Veterinarians at FHA determined Luna had five broken vertebrae, two of which required surgical stabilization, two possible stab wounds on her chest, a dislocated hip that may need surgical repair in the future and more. Other injuries indicate she had been brutally sexually abused and was likely strangled. Veterinarians were able to determine these injuries occurred over weeks due to the varying stages of healing of each injury.

Despite all of the trauma Luna has endured, she is slowly learning to walk again. With the help of Friendship Hospital for Animals’ team of veterinarians, Luna is able to stand with the help of a sling. She is also able to take a few steps, particularly when treats are involved.

On Monday, Aug. 24, the Humane Society of the United States offered an additional $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for sexually abusing and abandoning Luna. With HRA’s existing $5,000 reward in the investigation, the total amount offered is $10,000.

The Investigations:

HRA’s humane law enforcement officers have launched two separate investigations to find those responsible for abusing Owen and Luna.

Owen: HRA is looking for information that could identify suspects in the case, as well as anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area near the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens involving a kitten. If you have information, please call 202-723-5730, option 3.

Luna: HLE officers are looking for anyone who may have noticed anything unusual near Fort Dupont Park on or before Aug. 11, anyone who recognizes Luna and information about the person or persons responsible for Luna’s injuries. If you have information, please call 202-723-5730, option 3.

“While we vigorously pursue the investigations, HRA is also focused on social conditions that may foment these heinous acts of cruelty. Unfortunately, we have a front row seat in all too many acts of violence as part of our ongoing work in the community,” said Lisa LaFontaine, CEO of the Humane Rescue Alliance. “But these cases reflect our worst fears – the pandemic and related pressures and isolation could cause violence against animals, and people, to escalate. Domestic violence calls have mounted, while child abuse reporting has plummeted. I am deeply concerned that these acts of incomprehensible violence toward defenseless animals are symptomatic of growing stressors in society.”

“There is a long-standing body of evidence that violence toward people and animals is inextricably linked. Sexual abuse of animals is a leading indicator of interpersonal violence, particularly child abuse. Make no mistake – we need to consider, collectively, the threat to those who are most vulnerable in our communities. What we have seen with these two animals in a matter of 10 days is a different order of magnitude and may be indicative of patterns of behavior that cause harm to other vulnerable populations.”

Animal Sexual Abuse

Animal sexual abuse is more than a horrible act of animal cruelty – it’s a critical indicator of potential issues of human interpersonal violence and sexual predation. There are especially strong indicators of a link between sexual abuse of animals and of people, especially children. A 2008 study of over 44,000 adult men evaluated for sexual misconduct found that bestiality (sexual abuse of an animal) was the largest single risk factor, and the strongest predictor, of increased risk to commit sexual abuse of children. More information is available here.