After more than a year, an Anchorage woman is finally getting justice for her cat

After more than a year an Anchorage woman is finally getting justice for her cat
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 6:31 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When Kelly Brown returned from a trip to Kenai in July of 2021, she was greeted with a shocking sight: her cat Tazzy had burns from head to toe.

Content Warning: This article contains information that some readers might find disturbing.

“It started with her face and went all the way back to the tip of her tail,” said Brown, who rushed Tazzy to the vet.

“After they shaved her and saw the extent of her injuries (they) thought it was inflicted by a human,” she said.

Brown was at a loss. She had left the cat and her dog in the care of a house sitter, who was a friend. She assumed Tazzy’s injuries occurred when the cat went outside, inflicted by someone unknown. Then Brown remembered a video camera she had set up months before for another purpose. What she found on the tape was disturbing.

The video showed Michael Rowe — her house sitter’s boyfriend chasing Tazzy — yelling at the cat and acting aggressively. Brown said the hours-long tape made her sick, and she knew immediately that Rowe was responsible.

Tazzy was severely burned, the vet said her injuries were suspicious
Tazzy was severely burned, the vet said her injuries were suspicious(Courtesy: Kelly Brown)

Rowe was charged with one count of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor. City Prosecutor Monica Elkinton told Judge Jo-Ann Chung the city decided to prosecute the case, in part, because of serious concerns associated with animal cruelty.

“The studies show that people who hurt animals are likely to harm other humans as well,” Elkinton said.

Rowe took responsibility for the crime, saying it was unacceptable. He told the judge he was under the influence of both heroin and Zanax at the time and has since gotten treatment and is clean.

His sentence included a $500 fine, and nearly $4,000 in restitution. He was ordered to serve 15 days and attend an anger management course. The judge put Rowe on unsupervised probation for three years and barred him from owning a cat or dog during that time.

Brown said she was satisfied with the sentence although she wished it had never happened. She told the judge Tazzy has healed from the abuse but will likely need to take medication for the rest of her life to combat nerve damage she suffered. She was glad that, at least for Rowe, there were consequences to hurting an animal.

Brown said she was grateful to the community who offered support after she posted about her cat on the community app NextDoor. Strangers offered to help with vet bills, sent messages of support. Others called the municipal prosecutor’s office, urging them to take the case. Brown said the response helped restore her faith in humanity.