WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - The Animal Services section of the Yolo County Sheriff's Office is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect or suspects who set a stray cat on fire in West Sacramento last week, causing the cat to be euthanized.
Melanie Hatchett and her friend were walking near Circle Park in West Sacramento at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday night when they saw what appeared to be a ball of fire moving through park.
"It was completely engulfed in flames," said Melanie Hatchett.
Hatchett says a flash lit up the darkness.
"Her entire body was charred on top. There was no fur on the bottom, it looked like," said Hatchett. "It was the most terrible sight in the entire world."
The cat obeyed its instincts and rolled in the grass, trying to put the flames out.
"And it ran into the grass next to the tree over there, trying to roll itself out from being on fire," said Hatchett. "She was meowing like crazy; in so much pain. She was laying there meowing and looking at us and staring at us and just saying: 'help me.'"
Hatchett and her friend called authorities and stayed with the cat until Yolo Animal Services arrived.
"We sat with it. And my friend, Sam, was petting her head and like that," she said.
Even in such pain, the young cat responded.
"She could barely walk. She was breathing fine when we petted her," she said.
The cat was transported by Animal Services to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine for emergency care.
"I have nightmares about it," Hatchett, who found the cat. "I toss and turn."
Animal Services says the cat was doused with an accelerant and then lit on fire.
It was a domestic short-hair brown tabby -- a stray with no known owner.
Veterinary staff first hoped the cat would survive, but faced with unmanageable pain and possibly the loss of some limbs, the cat was put down.
Anyone with information on this crime is asked to call the Yolo County Sheriff's Department, Animal Services Section at (530) 668-5287 or the West Sacramento Police Department at (916) 617-4900.
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