Suspect arrested on animal cruelty charges after cat set on fire in Montgomery County

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ind. – A 19-year-old turned himself in after admitting he poured gasoline on a cat before setting the feline on fire.

Deputies with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office arrested Noah Riley, 19, Thursday night on charges of animal cruelty. The badly burned cat was found bound by a rope Wednesday in a cornfield near the Crawfordsville Municipal Airport off West 500 South. Riley told investigators he saw several social media posts about the cat and wanted to "get the issue resolved." A juvenile was also arrested in the case, police said.

4 Fast Facts

  • 19-year-old arrested after setting cat on fire in Montgomery County
  • He turned himself in after seeing social media posts about the case
  • Police said suspect drenched cat in gasoline
  • The cat was severely burned and has been taken to Purdue Animal Hospital

Retired firefighter Steve Wright said he was home watching TV Wednesday night when he noticed a flame shoot up from the field. Wright found the female cat drenched in gasoline; someone had laid a firecracker on top of her. The firecracker didn’t go off.

Animal care workers believe the cat survived because she was lying in a puddle that helped douse the fire. The cat went to Purdue Animal Hospital for treatment and faces an extensive recovery.

“Her ears are shriveled. Her fur is gone down to the skin," said Misha Anderson, director of the Animal Welfare League of Montgomery County. “She landed in a mud puddle. So I think that slowed down the fire or at least dampened her fur which caused the only flames to be gasoline so all the fur is mostly singed.”

The organization has set up a fund to aid in the cat’s recovery. Anyone interested in donating can go here to do so. A neighbor of the firefighter who found the cat has put in a request to adopt her.

“Your words, thoughts, and prayers have helped energize our exhausted staff in this incredibly difficult time,” the group wrote on its Facebook page. “She is a fighter, and we will keep fighting for her!”