The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is investigating a case of animal abuse in Queen Creek after neighbors found a mangled cat.
The pet was found near 223rd Street and Rittenhouse Road.
"It was really, really bad," said Michael McClure, who helped return the cat's remains to the owner.
Another neighbor said she watched several boys hurt the animal as they waited for a school bus Tuesday morning.
"They were about 13, one of them was kicking the cat as it lied there," Heather Currington said. "Another was digging a hold in the sand, I assume to bury the cat."
That's why Currington said she grabbed her camera and started taking pictures to show sheriff's deputies.
"It was pretty much split open," McClure said, "and they had spread a bunch of the intestines around."
But after talking with the boys, sheriff's deputies determined that they were not responsible for killing the cat. Instead, deputy Doug Matteson said the sheriff's office believes the boys found the cat after it was already dead. Matteson said there is no law against kicking a dead animal.
Currington reacted with disgust to that explanation.
"You don't kick an animal lying there," she said. "It shows disrespect for something that was living."
Neighobrs said there is no way another animal could have killed the cat because there was a clean slit across its stomach. They also said the pet was an indoor cat that accidentally escaped the backyard through a wrought iron fence.
"It was actually bought a month before they were married 10 years ago," Currington said.
The sheriff's office said deputies are still investigating the case and looking for the person responsible for killing the cat.
Neighbors said they're not just concerned for the safety of their own pets, but they said they're worried that whoever is responsible might do something worse next time.
"Terrorists do that," Currington said.