Cruelty to cat merits conviction

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 6, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Ravan Deel Bagley, 19, of the 1000 block of White Marsh Road on Thursday became the city’s first resident to be prosecuted under the state’s new felony animal cruelty statute.

Suffolk Circuit Court Judge Westbrook Parker found Bagley guilty of felony cruelty to animals. Parker sentenced Bagley to five years in prison, which were suspended in lieu of five years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to undergo mental health and anger management counseling.

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The charges stemmed from a February 2003 incident: Bagley was working in a garage on the 800 block of Hosier Road when the cat began to annoy him.

&uot;After unsuccessful attempts to chase the cat away, Bagley tossed a flammable liquid and a burning rag at the cat,&uot; said Suffolk Fire Captain Jim Judkins. &uot;The cat’s burned remains were later discovered by firefighters who were summoned for a reported brush fire near a dwelling.&uot;

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Susan H. Walton said Bagley is the first in Suffolk to be prosecuted under the 2002 law which states &uot;that anyone who beats, maims, tortures, or willfully inflicts injury or pain to a cat or dog, or cruelly beats, or causes the death of a companion animal is guilty of a felony.&uot;

There was never any doubt that Bagley set the cat afire, Walton said.

&uot;In one statement to investigators, he said he spilled oil onto the cat, and in another statement, he said he threw gas on it,&uot; the prosecutor said. &uot;He called his cousin to say, ‘You may want to go out to check the bush because I just set your cat on fire.’ The cat and the house where Bagley was staying belonged to his cousin.&uot;

Firefighters found the cat underneath a bush that was ablaze where &uot;Tiger&uot; had tried to hide. The judge took the photograph of the cat’s burned body as evidence in the trial.

Bagley’s attorney attempted to convince the court that since society already holds abuse of animals in such contempt, it was not necessary to send a message about the penalties through his sentence.

Walton recommended to the court that Bagley go to jail for three years in addition to the counseling.

However, Parker said he had to use reason in setting Bagley’s sentence.