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Ripped kitten paws lead to animal cruelty charges

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

A District man has been arrested on cruelty to animal charges for allegedly ripping the claws from the feet of young kittens in a "home de-clawing."

Law enforcement officials found that neither of the two kittens could walk. The bones to the toes had been clipped off, and the bones of the feet had been crushed, likely as the eight-week-old animals struggled to escape, officials said.

Officials of the Washington Human Society called it one of the worst cases of animal torture in decades.

"The screams of these animals must have been horrible," said Scott Giacoppo, of the Humane Society. "The bones were ripped from their body, one-by-one. It's the equivalent of holding someone down and cutting their toes off one-by-one and breaking their limbs to keep them from struggling."

Officials said the bones could not be repaired. Due to the extent of the injuries and the poor prognosis for recovery, both cats were euthanized, officials said

Eric Felipe Gaskin, 39, was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty. He faces up to five years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Police said it is not Gaskin's first arrest for hurting animals, officials said. In 1998, Gaskin was charged with cruelty to animals, but those charged were dropped, Giacoppo said. The details of that case were not immediately available.

According to charging documents in the recent case, Gaskin's sister brought the kittens to D.C. Animal Care and Control shelter in May after she found the injured kittens in her basement, where Gaskin was temporarily living with his young daughter.

The sister told authorities that she only learned of the kittens that day after Gaskin's daughter mentioned that she needed to take the animals to the litter box because they could not walk.

After seeing the condition of the kittens, Gaskin's sister took them to the shelter for care.

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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