Authorities arrested a man from Southeast Washington Friday and charged him with mutilating the claws of a pair of eight-week-old kittens in what animal advocates described as "an unbelievable act of animal cruelty."
Eric Felipe Gaskin, 39, is facing two counts of felony animal cruelty, according to an affidavit from D.C. Superior Court.
"I've been doing this for 20 years and haven't seen anything close to this," said Scott Giacoppa, vice president of external affairs at the Washington Humane Society.
Mr. Giacoppa said that in May, Mr. Gaskin put a sharp object, perhaps a nail cutter, "all the way up to the digit and tried to snip it. One by one, the bones were ripped and crushed from the animals' feet."
According to the affidavit, the act would have been "an extremely painful experience for the kittens, and they would have struggled to get away."
Mr. Gaskin's sister, in whose basement he was living at the time, surrendered the kittens to the Washington Humane Society between three and five days after the incident when she found out they were unable to walk. According to the affidavit, the animals' paws appeared to be "scabbed over and caked with debris and kitty litter."
An officer with the Humane Society rushed the kittens to an emergency animal hospital.
The animals were euthanized the same day because veterinary surgeons thought it would be the most humane option. The act performed, without any sedation, would otherwise "have resulted in extreme pain and a large amount of hemorrhaging," according to the affidavit.
In the four months between the act and Mr. Gaskin's arrest, The Washington Humane Society investigated the incident to establish probable cause and the reason for the action.
"Usually there is some level of motivation," Mr. Giacoppa said. "We don't know what happened here. I can't imagine the pain and suffering."
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