A disturbing case of animal cruelty that has upset residents of Manitowoc, Wisconsin since its discovery on Sunday has been solved by police with the help of tipsters who called in with information. The case and its resolution stand as an ugly reminder at the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month that pets are domestic violence victims, too.
A group of people fishing near the 10th Street Bridge in Manitowoc early Sunday evening saw a plastic bag with a cat in it floating in the water. They used a net to pull the animal out of the water and discovered that the cat was wrapped and bound with duct tape, and it was already too late for it to be saved.
The Lakeshore Humane Society was right on target when it included a reminder that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in its statement on the case made earlier this week. The 49 year old man arrested Tuesday night in the horrible killing and dumping was the cat’s owner of 10 years,Michael J. Wasurick. When he admitted to the crime, Washurick used the excuse that he killed the cat because he was feeling suicidal. This is the second case in the news in recent weeks where a man has used this same suicidal feelings excuse when arrested for killing a cat.
Detective Mike Stone of the Manitowoc police spoke to the Green Bay Press Gazette about the killer’s excuse, saying “He said the reason he did that is that he was feeling suicidal and instead of taking it out on himself, he took it out on the cat.” Washurick is being held at the Manitowoc County Jail, and police are recommending a charge of felony mistreatment of an animal.
Tipsters told police that on Sunday Washrick was complaining that his cat was missing, and by Monday he was getting rid of the cat’s things. Washurick went to the police station and identified his cat’s remains on Monday, then left angrily when questioned. When police later went to Washrick’s home and asked him how he would kill a cat, the man described the manner in which his own cat was killed. Police believe the cat was left to suffocate at home, then dumped in the water. The vet who performed a necropsy concurred.
Police have had dealings with Washurick in the last month, when the man reported that someone was vandalizing his truck, then later admitted that he had damaged the truck himself after police received a tip saying he had done so. Washurick told police he had taken his anger and frustration out on the truck instead of on a person.
It remains to be seen whether the killer’s excuse of suicidal feelings will get him off in court, or will minimize punishment if he is found guilty.
The Lakeshore Humane Society, located in Manitowoc, issued the following strong statement on Tuesday:
Animal Cruelty in Manitowoc
MANITOWOC, WI — The recent report about a cat found in the Manitowoc River with its paws duct taped to its head is a story of cruelty that should create an uneasy feeling in everyone who hears about it. This act is not simply a prank or mischief. It is not a report of a failure to take care of an animal or a sign of neglect. It is a deliberate act of cruelty and the reflection of a criminal mind that lives among us. The person(s) responsible for this unspeakable act needs to be identified and made to face the laws of this state regarding animal cruelty. In Wisconsin, this offense is a Class 1 felony. It is punishable by a maximum $10,000 fine and/or three and a half years in jail.
No reasonable, conscientious person would ignore a child being abuse in any way. Neither should anyone turn a blind eye to the abuse of any animal. It has been proven that people who abuse or torture animals are very likely to be violent to humans as well. Pet abuse is one of the four predictors of domestic partner violence. They may manipulate and control their human victims by threatening violence against the family pet. A person – especially a child – who abuses animals is sending out a warning signal that they pose a danger to themselves and others, and may be acting out against violence experienced at home.
Animals cannot speak for themselves, so it is up to us to speak for them. Reporting, investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty in any form can help take dangerous criminals off the streets of our community. For this reason, the Lakeshore Humane Society is working closely with the local law enforcement agencies to find the individuals responsible for the death of this cat. The LHS is also collecting donations to offer as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this act of cruelty. You can send your donations to the Lakeshore Humane Society Reward Fund, Attention: Mary Jo Haban, Treasurer, 1551 North 8th Street, Manitowoc, WI 54220. Please email [email protected] or call the Lakeshore Humane Society at 920-684-5401 if you have any questions.
The LHS also urges you to call Crime Stoppers at (920) 683-4466 with any information you may have about this crime. Each call is completely anonymous. If the information you share leads to the arrest of a suspect, you are also eligible for a reward from Crime Stoppers.
Please note: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
News report on the case made before the cat’s owner was identified as the killer. Police Lt. Paul Schermetzler and Valorie Gingler of the Lakeshore Humane Society discuss the case, and Ms. Gingler talks about humane options for rehoming unwanted cats.