LAS CRUCES, N.M. - A family in Las Cruces is traumatized after someone set its cat on fire. The cat had to be put down. A month later, police are still searching for whoever is responsible.
The worry is that every day the person or people are free, they will abuse another animal or even a child.
"There is no way it could have been anything but an intentional act of cruelty and the people who saw her on fire heard what they described as men or boys laughing as she was trying to get away on fire. So these are people who are obviously very sick as far as I'm concerned," said Patty Walters, the mother of the woman who owned the cat.
Walters wants justice for her daughter, who is devastated by the death of her cat Rosie.
Rosie was a 1-year-old declawed Calico.
She ran out of her apartment on Oct. 11 when her owner opened the door.
"Of course we thought someone would find the cat and return her because she was chipped. Never in our wildest dreams, her wildest dreams did she think that something this horrible would happen," Walters said.
A few days later, a neighbor found Rosie crawling toward her, engulfed in flames. Her white fur was black and charred.
Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock, the director of the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, is the one who had to euthanize Rosie.
"It was very difficult and I actually had tears in my eyes. I don't cry over many euthanasias because I've been doing them now for nearly 20 years. It's a very sad situation and it's very hard on another human to make a decision to take a life of another creature," Vesco-Mock told ABC-7.
Many worry this is just the beginning for whoever could set a cat on fire.
"They will do it to someone else's animal and if they get away with it then, definitely, they will progress to doing it to a human," Vesco-Mock said.
Walters and her daughter will never forget what was done to Rosie.
"I have friends who tell me not to think about it so much, that she probably went into shock and didn't feel as much but it breaks my heart," Walters said.
Vesco-Mock said this is one of the cruelest animal abuse cases she's ever seen.
Las Cruces Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,600 reward for information that leads to an arrest. The incident happened at 2250 Missouri Ave. on Oct. 15.
An account for donations to increase the reward has been set up at US Bank in Las Cruces.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or send a tip via text message to CRIMES (274637), keyword LCTIPS.
The Crime Stoppers number and text messaging services are operational 24 hours a day and you do not have to give your name to collect a reward.