Cat decapitation prompts action by animal rights group

by Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

RIFLE – Nearly two months after police discovered the head of a cat impaled on the Rifle Middle School’s flagpole, the minors responsible for the crime have been apprehended. But what about the children who were affected by it?

Garfield School District Re-2 staff members are working independently and with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to help children come to terms with the crime.

Theresa Hamilton, director of districtwide services for Re-2, said the district received humane education packets recently from PETA to be used in the classroom. PETA sent the packets, which contain complimentary copies of an interactive multimedia program that teaches children to be kind to all forms of life, to Garfield and Mesa county district superintendents and school principals.

“We want to assist educators in guiding discussions sparked by the recent decapitation …” said Holly Quaglia of PETA, which is headquartered in Norfolk, Va. “We’ve also included `Raising Kind Kids’ brochures, which offer simple tips to parents for incorporating kindness into daily life, and identifying aggression that can grow if left unchecked.”

Police received reports of the decapitated head on top of the flagpole on April 1, and arrested two juveniles – a 13- and 15-year old – on April 17 in connection with the crime. The minors’ names were not released.

Police determined that the juveniles found the deceased cat, and decapitated it and placed its head on the pole as an April Fool’s Day joke. The case was passed onto the 9th District Attorney’s office for possible filing of misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals and second-degree criminal tampering.

Hamilton said Re-2 staff are working with individual children who might have been affected by the incident.

“Some children saw the cat head or heard about it and were distressed by it,” Hamilton said. “All of these children were offered opportunities with professionals, such as staff members and school counselors. We have PETA’s materials and are evaluating how it can fit in to our curriculum, and how we can incorporate it in dealing with this incident.”

Hamilton said the incident affects not only the children who actually were responsible for it, but children throughout the district’s community.

“We will use the appropriate resources and education to address the larger impacts of such actions,” Hamilton said.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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