PLYMOUTH — A Plymouth man sobbed as he was escorted by borough police from a district courtroom Tuesday when he was charged on felony animal cruelty charges alleging he baited cats with fish hooks.
Kenny Rowles, 27, of 407 1/2 E. Main St., was heckled by campaign workers outside the voting precinct at the Nanticoke Municipal Building where he was arraigned by District Judge Donald Whittaker.
Humane officers with the SPCA allege Rowles admitted to using a baited triple fishing hook and string to feed stray cats from his rear porch in early April.
Lisa Devlin, a humane officer, said one cat named Tollie was found with a fish hook embedded in its throat and string hanging from its mouth on April 8. Other stray cats in a vacant building next to Rowles’ residence were found unharmed, Devlin said.
“The charges are very serious, it was very harmful to the cat,” Devlin said after Rowles was arraigned. “I’m thankful that the justice system will step in now and get justice for Tollie.
“The intent was a little bit concerning. Neglect is one thing but the intent to intentionally harm and knowingly, just like the law says, it’s concerning,” Devlin noted.
Devlin said Tollie is in foster care and doing much better.
Tollie was rescued from the vacant residence by Happy Hearts and Tails Safe Haven Animal Rescue and underwent surgery to remove the triple prong fish hook and string by Dr. Inayat Kathio at the Wilkes-Barre Animal Hospital.
According to the criminal complaint:
Humane officers were alerted by Whiskers World Cat Rescue on April 8 that Rowles was baiting cats with fish hooks and bragging about it to neighbors.
When humane officers visited Rowles, he admitted to using table scraps of meat on a fish hook tied to a string that he hung from his rear porch to feed and play with cats.
Rowles cried in front of humane officers when he was told there was a cat with an embedded fish hook and string hanging from its mouth. Rowles asked if he was in trouble and refused to accompany the officers to the rear of his property claiming he was working with a contractor in another apartment in his building.
During an interview with police and humane officers on April 9, Rowles admitted he used baited triple fishing hooks and string to feed cats, the complaint says.
Rowles surrendered on two felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, two misdemeanor counts of neglect of animals and cruelty to animals and a summary count of animal cruelty. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility when he was unable to post $100,000 bail set by Whittaker.
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