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AUSTIN EDITION - Abuse leaves some cats without ears

CORRECTION RAN TUESDAY (2/15/05)

A story on Page 1A Saturday about four cats that had their ears cut off should have stated that intentional cruelty or mutilation causing great bodily harm to companion animals, including cats that are strays or have owners, are now felony-level offenses in Minnesota. Anyone with information about the case should call the Olmsted County Sheriff's Department at 285-0813. Paws and Claws Humane Society is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the crime.

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By Dawn Schuett

schuett@postbulletin.com

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Residents of a Rochester mobile home park are trying to solve a mystery that has left them appalled -- and some cats without ears.

Someone has cut off the ears of at least four cats in recent months in the area of Zumbro Ridge Estates on U.S. 63 North.

"I've never seen anything like this in my entire life," said Diane Miller, manager of the mobile home park. "This is just terrible."

Denise Johnson, a resident at Zumbro Ridge Estates, said she found the first cat with its ears clipped off in late August or September.

Johnson cared for the cat, named "Maggie," for almost five months before taking it to Paws and Claws Humane Society about a month ago.

Three to four weeks ago, Johnson saw another cat outside with its ears cut off and is now caring for it. A veterinarian confirmed the cats' ears were cut off and their injuries were not caused by frostbite, Johnson said.

On Wednesday, Johnson received an e-mail about Paws and Claws learning of two cats with similar injuries at Hallmark Terrace Court mobile home park, although residents there are not allowed to own cats or dogs. Hallmark Terrace is near Zumbro Ridge Estates.

MariLynn Johnson, Paws and Claws adoption counselor, said although animal abuse is a gross misdemeanor crime in Minnesota, the humane society receives many calls about mistreated animals and is powerless when it comes to enforcement. "Where do you start?" she said.

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With four cats disfigured, Johnson informed Miller of what was happening and contacted the Olmsted County Sheriff's Department.

"I just feel if somebody does this to animals, what could they possibly be doing to people?" Johnson said.

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