Utah cat set on fire faces infection, long road to recovery, shelter says

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) — Staff at RSQ Dogs+, a no-kill, volunteer animal rescue group focusing on the rural areas of Southern Utah, said they couldn’t believe 1-year-old Sterling was alive after first seeing the extent of his injuries.

On July 21, a woman in Hildale brought the critically injured cat to the veterinary hospital after she said she found him in her yard. Veterinarians said his wounds were consistent with being tortured, tied up, and set on fire.

“The interesting thing about Sterling is you’d think he would not trust humans, but he’s the most loving, sweet boy you’ve ever seen,” Linda Thomas, the shelter’s volunteer feline medical director, said. “We’re just grateful for those people that care enough to alert us to these situations and bring us these animals.”

Rescuers tell ABC4 News they hope Sterling will make a full recovery with proper care. He’s already made it through surgery but is now suffering from an infection after sutures came loose. He remains on several medications to control the pain and infection.

The Humane Society of Utah is offering a $5000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the suspect responsible.

RSQ Dogs+ says the majority of their rescues come from the Hildale and Colorado City area, where they say many animals are not vaccinated, spayed, or neutered. Rescuers say they’ve heard from locals there that the majority of animal abuse cases they see come from preteen or teenage boys instigating the violence.

Staff add that many in that community are hoping for change and accountability.

“There’s awesome people that want to see things change, and that’s why we do what we do,” Thomas added.

On Monday afternoon, an individual wishing to stay anonymous brought in a cat and her kittens, telling rescuers that a man had doused the cat in gasoline and was planning to set it on fire with a match before the person stepped in. The individual has spent several weeks taking care of the cat and her kittens before dropping them off at the shelter for further care.

The investigation into Sterling’s abuse is ongoing. Officials ask that you call the Colorado City Marshal’s Office dispatch at 928-875-2695 with any information.

Katie Karalis
Katie worked as a multimedia journalist in Reno, Nevada for KRNV News 4 and in Quincy, Illinois for WGEM-TV before making the move to Utah. Katie graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she anchored and reported for the Emmy-award-winning Northwestern News Network.
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