KAYSVILLE -- An act of animal cruelty has sparked community outrage at the suspects and gratitude to the woman who went out of her way to protect two little kittens.
Natalie Clements was driving to her home in Layton Wednesday afternoon, going northbound on Interstate 15. Driving in front of her was a maroon Ford F-150 pickup truck. She saw someone throw what at first she thought was a bag out the window. However, to her horror she realized that it was a full-grown cat, Clements said.
Then she saw the passenger throw four more smaller cats out of the speeding vehicle two at a time.
"It made me sick. At the time I was having an anxiety attack," she said.
Clements considered following the truck to report its whereabouts to the police, but realized that the cats may still be alive, injured and in danger.
She got off the freeway and looped around to where the cats had landed. She found only two still alive. What appeared to be the mother and two other kittens most likely died on impact with the ground.
Clements called Davis County Animal Services, which walked her through handling the kittens and met with her to take them to the shelter for care. Two animal technicians were on hand to examine them to make sure there was no internal bleeding, Clements said.
The kittens turned out not to be severely injured. Clements said they were thrown into some brush on the side of the road, which most likely broke their fall.
Now Utah's animal community is seeking justice for the cats.
The National Humane Society is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest of the suspects. Utah's own Humane Society is matching the reward, totaling $5,000 for information, Utah Human Society spokesman Carl Arky said. The goal of the bounty is to lead to charges and an eventual conviction.
The suspects in the case would most likely face felony animal cruelty charges, which comes with the possibility of a five-year prison sentence and $5,000 fine, Arky said. In 2008 the Utah Legislature upgraded animal cruelty to a felony.
Arky said it's perfectly understandable if someone is not up to the responsibility of raising a pet, but that they should be taken to a shelter. The way the cats were disposed of was horrid, he said.
Clements is a self-described animal person and became very emotional over the entire ordeal. She said the reward for information was completely welcome.
"This is not behavior society should put up with," she said.
The two surviving kittens were taken to the Davis County Animal Shelter and were in good condition, assistant director of the shelter Tracy Roddom said. It wasn't long before they were taken to a rescue home to await adoption in a comfortable, caring environment.
Arky is thankful to people like Clements who go the extra mile for helpless animals.
"It's refreshing to see someone who cares this much," he said.
Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SE_Andreas.