CINCINNATI (FOX19) - An act of cruelty described as disturbing and horrific has led to a full-fledged investigation in Hamilton County.
Rescuers believe someone is torturing animals in Price Hill, and they fear it could continue to escalate.
Warning: some of the details in this story may be disturbing.
Nature Nurses Wildlife Rescue saves more than 1,000 animals every year, according to the people who run it. The licensed wildlife rehabilitators who are part of the organization rescue the animals, rehab them and then release them back into the wild.
Amy Stevens, a licensed Ohio rehabber who is part of the rescue, says they have seen a lot of crazy things, but nothing like their latest case.
After getting a call about an injured raccoon in Price Hill, Izabella Lafever, another licensed rehabber, went to a neighborhood near Glenway Avenue and Cleves Warsaw Pike on Tuesday. There, she said she found the animal alive, but barely breathing and suffering in wet, freezing weather.
Lafever took the raccoon to a veterinarian who told her that the animal had third degree burns on his face and body that were caused by a human being.
“It smelled like burning hair and death and sickness, and it was traumatic. I can’t believe anyone would do this to an animal,” Lefever said. “He was hopeless. He couldn’t open his eyes. He could raise his head up to try and look at me, but his eyes were burned closed.”
Based on the animal’s injuries and the location of the burns, the vet says someone lit the animal on fire.
“To mentally have the capacity to put that animal through this kind of suffering and to literally set it on fire has got to be a very disturbed individual,” Stevens said.
Rescuers say the raccoon was beyond the point of saving and had to be humanely euthanized.
Stevens said they have since learned that the raccoon’s death is part of a pattern of animals in the area being tortured.
“Are they doing it to stray cats? Are they doing it neighbors’ dogs? Are they doing it to squirrels or any other animal that they may not like?” Stevens asked.
The Hamilton County Dog Warden says he is investigating the case as animal cruelty and will be going to the neighborhood to continue the investigation.
Stevens and Lefever are advising everyone, but especially pet owners, to take precautions and come forward with what they know.
“We want to bring justice not only to him, but we want to prevent this from happening to other animals, whether that’s domestic or wildlife,” Stevens said.
According to Stevens, in the state of Ohio, raccoons are considered a ‘nuisance animal,’ but she said cruelty is still criminal.
She also wants to remind anyone who is having an issue with a raccoon that there are humane ways to deal with the animal, such as calling a rehabber, a wildlife rescue or a critter control agency.
Anyone with information on the case can call the Hamilton County Animal Shelter, also known as Cincinnati Animal CARE, at 513-541-7387.
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