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Family Accuses Neighborhood Teens of Burning Beloved Outdoor Cat to Death

A Pensacola, Florida, family is “devastated” after an outdoor cat they had been feeding was “horrifically” set on fire and burned alive.

Don Hayden, 47, told Newsweek on Facebook Wednesday night that the “horrendous” incident occurred around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, adding that the cat’s tortuous death was caught on a neighbor’s Ring camera. He said he hopes that the juveniles involved in killing the cat will be held responsible for their actions.

“Some kids decided to take one of our outside cats and burn her alive,” Hayden said to Newsweek. “My wife actually met with animal control this morning and they were able to get the video that was taken by our neighbor she had a ring camera that witnessed the whole incident so hopefully these kids will be charged.”

Both the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) and Escambia County Animal Control (ECAC) are investigating, according to local media outlet ABC3.

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A beloved outdoor cat allegedly burned to death by local teenagers in Florida is pictured. Don Hayden said the 2-year-old cat’s name was Little Friend and that his family is “devastated” by the loss. He called on those involved in the cat’s horrific death to be held responsible.

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Newsweek reached out via email and Facebook on Wednesday to ECSO and ECAC for comment.

The cat killed on Sunday was about 2 years old and called Little Friend by the Hayden family.

“I know it’s kind of a weird name, but when you have so many outside cats,” Hayden told Newsweek. “My children named them and all of them have weird names.”

The Haydens are cat lovers, feeding a cat colony of roughly 30 cats in their Montclair neighborhood, in addition to their four indoor felines, Hayden said to Newsweek. He said the family took over caring for the colony after an elderly neighbor, who used to look after them, moved to a nursing home.

He said his wife Ashlee and their three children, ages 13, 16 and 18, are especially heartbroken over Little Friend’s traumatic death because they care for and feed the cat colony every day. He said his youngest child and his wife have watched the graphic video of Little Friend being burned alive.

“It was pretty horrific” Hayden said, noting he discovered the disturbing aftermath of the cat’s brutal death before he left for work around 5 a.m. Sunday. “Because my kids take care of the cats more than anyone, they’re pretty devastated.”

Hayden said he believes he knows who burned Little Friend, saying, “there were between five and seven teenagers, apparently one of them is as young as 11-years-old.”

“They are very bad kids,” he said. “They have also been suspected of breaking into homes that are vacant in the neighborhood. I also purchased a brand-new Ford F150 less than a year ago and I suspect them of putting two bullet holes in the tailgate of my truck this past January on New Year’s Eve.”

He said the wave of violence is disturbing enough to make him want to relocate his family. “Unfortunately, Montclair is a very bad neighborhood. I am trying to move out of there as soon as possible,” Hayden said.

He said even if the family does move, his kids want to bring the entire cat colony with them. In the meantime, Hayden said his family is concerned for the outdoor felines, as those involved in Little Friend’s death are not in custody.

“I do not want this happening to any more of these beautiful kitties,” Hayden said.

The Haydens are hoping to find loving homes for all 30 cats, roughly 75 percent of which are already spayed and neutered, Hayden said. “I’m also trying to find some help with getting some food for these cats because it does get very expensive and I don’t want them to go hungry.”

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