Redding, California — Two Chico girls, one of whom is in custody, were directly involved in setting a cat on fire in Redding on July 8, police said Tuesday.
The 13-year-old feline, a pet, was badly hurt and had to be euthanized. The cat was named Tango.
The girls, 15 and 16, reportedly went to Redding, where they and three other juveniles decided to catch a cat and set it on fire.
The teenagers allegedly found the feline walking on a Redding street and lured it into their vehicle with a can of tuna.
Stopping at a new housing subdivision, they placed the cat on the ground, doused it with gasoline, then tried twice to light it on fire, it was alleged.
The cat ran away during one attempt, but Redding police Sgt. Bruce Bonner said one of the Chico girls ran after it and caught it. The other Chico girl allegedly held it down.
On a third attempt, the cat began to burn. It ran halfway up a fence, then fell to the ground.
A small grass fire that started to burn the fence attracted the attention of passer-by, who rescued the cat.
Four of the suspects, two boys and two girls, remain in custody at Shasta County Juvenile Hall.
The 15-year-old Chico girl was transferred to Redding on Monday from Butte County Juvenile Hall, after authorities here said she wouldn't be prosecuted on a charge of assaulting her caretaker.
The 16-year-old Chico girl is believed to have fled Butte County, but Redding police said they have leads on her whereabouts.
Bonner said one of the Chico teens is a former girlfriend of one of the male suspects. He said it's unknown how the girls got to Redding.
Bonner said the animal-cruelty case has outraged a lot of people in Redding, and it's possible the suspects will be tried as adults.
A gift of $6,500 has been raised by the public. The money will be awarded to Redding's Haven Humane Society upon prosecution of the juveniles, Bonner said.
He added that police are taking the case especially seriously for fear the youngsters could turn to crimes against people as they get older.
"All our training and experience tells us that without intervention they'll get into more serious trouble later on," he said.
The cat's owner said she hopes the juveniles get counseling. I hope they get jail.
All five teens face a variety of felony charges, including arson and conspiracy.