Platte Co Prosecutor Refuses to Do His Job to Protect Animals, Cites Insufficient Public Outrage Over Child Rape

On a lazy Sunday afternoon in July, grandparents, grandkids and other area residents were watching the boats and wildlife on Lake Waukomis in Platte County, Missouri. Suddenly in full view of the public, a man showed up on the dock with a cat in a carrier and proceeded to drown the pet in the lake.

Missouri state law allows for owners to kill their own pets so long as they don’t intend to torture them in the process. Drowning, a violent and prolonged form of killing, doesn’t qualify as torture in the mind of Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd:

“The law says an owner or an agent can kill the animal in any way,” Zahnd said.

The 30-year-old law, which prohibits killing animals in certain ways or intentionally causing injury or suffering to animals, does not apply to the “killing of an animal by the owner.”

“If a person’s intent is to cause suffering or pain to an animal, that’s still a crime,” Zahnd said. “But in this case, the only evidence was that his intent was actually to kill this animal.”

Mr. Zahnd declined to prosecute the case. He acknowledged the public outrage over the killing but you know, there are kids starving in Africa and stuff:

“It would say something even better about our society if my office received the same sort of outcry on behalf of child victims, on behalf of victims of rape and murder and other crimes,” Zahnd said.

Because people don’t care enough about child rape and murder in Mr. Zahnd’s mind, the tortured cat does not deserve justice.  And bonus:  he doesn’t have to do his job to prosecute a violation of the law.

Thomas Newhouse, who admitted drowning his pet, told police he did so after the cat bit and scratched his fiancee after they returned from church:

Newhouse told police he went to the dock, and not seeing anyone around, he held the cat in the cage under the water, until the thrashing stopped.

The thrashing reportedly took several minutes and was accompanied by people screaming at him to stop and a call to 911.  Police cited Mr. Newhouse for animal abuse but with the county prosecutor unwilling to take action, the charge was dropped.

Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd is an elected official.  I hope county residents send him packing, never to be heard from in public service again.  Get someone sensible and compassionate in there who is willing to do his job.  I can only imagine what horrors we will learn about the next time Thomas Newhouse makes the news.  And we’ll have Eric Zahnd to personally thank for that.

(Thanks Peter for alerting me to this story.)

26 thoughts on “Platte Co Prosecutor Refuses to Do His Job to Protect Animals, Cites Insufficient Public Outrage Over Child Rape

    1. What the Hell is that? This guy is insane. He evidently doesn’t have a heart. And what makes “Mr. God” think that we don’t advocate for children, too? You can be up in arms about a lot of things. You know, I’m a female, 5’3″, 115 pounds with some physical issues. But if I had been there, I would have sidekicked this monster right in the ribs and into the water. I’m a Black belt in Shotokan Karate. Then I’d try to find something heavy to put on him while I saved the cat. People were screaming at him and calling 911? Sorry, but there’s no excuse for someone going over there, saving the cat and then knocking the snot out of him. He’s not human anyway. And, Mr. Zahnd, since you think this is so okay, I wouldn’t save you. But I would save someone else, especially a child.

  1. Off topic but placing this here because more people are likely to check the current post:

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  2. RIP kitty! I’m sorry your last minutes were such torture. And to the men who did this and who condoned it, I have no words! Someday this will come back to haunt you – as it should. This cat did not deserve to die, much less in this manner.

  3. I saw this last night, right before bed (which did not help).

    All I can think is that if this woman goes through with this marriage, she cannot expect a long and happy life with this man. I can only hope that they don’t have children, ever.

    At least the rest of the town now knows him to be a monster and can protect their children and pets from him…

  4. Thomas Newhouse apparently acted under the direction of his fiance, Dr. Nancy Russell–she bills herself as a “holistic practitioner,” news reports say she stood by and watched for the FIVE MINUTES it took the cat to drown trapped in the carrier. She claims to have appeared on 20/20 and other programs; her office numbers are 816-453-5545 and (toll free) 800-276-3844. Apparently Dr. Newhouse was away (drowning cats maybe) on the day the “first, do no harm,” part of medical ethics were taught.

    1. OMG, it’s true – put two nutcases in a stadium full of people and they’ll find each other.

      I really, really hope that they don’t breed.

    2. I guess for Dr Russell, ‘holistic’ means, don’t treat the symptoms – kill the whole cat.

      On a more serious level, I’ve been dealing with feline aggression in my own household – actual aggression, not defensive hiss-and-spit – and yes, it was very frightening and a bit bloody and I said some very immoderate things, and then said some of them again when I found out from my vet how little is known about true aggression in cats. But once we had P’Gell stabilized on fluoxetine, set up a reasonable separation space and got into a routine, it got a lot easier. As a bonus, it turns out fluoxetine works really well for PGell’s feline hyperesthesia, which was probably a major factor along with grief and stress.

      So I know something about what it’s like, facing sudden aggression in a cat, and I also know there are approaches to try that don’t involve slow and painful death, or, well, any death at all.

      1. Oh yes, when my cat’s brain infection started compromising his ability to “deal” with situations, there was lots of blood and it was mine. Didn’t stop me from doing my damnedest to try to treat/save him. I will confess that I did feel a need to punish him, though – after I cleaned up the pool/trail of my blood, I started calling him “Cuddlemuffin”. Yeah, you bet he was sorry after that.

        The adrenaline from a serious bite wound can be impressive, but it never drove me to do more than plaster an animal with an ironic nickname…

        Since this woman was so keen on killing this cat, I have to wonder what else she did to the cat that resulted in a scratch? Something is VERY wrong with the both of them. I expect the prosecutor will see one or the other or them in the future for some other violent crime. Maybe then he’ll feel some kind of need to do his job?

      2. I’ve been wondering about all the things I’ve known to cause a cat to lash out when handled, like undiagnosed pain, infection, fever, neurological issues, hyperthyroidism, hyperesthesia, stress and redirected aggression … there are just so many things. And that’s not even getting into things like rough handling or worse.

      3. You guys are more generous than me obviously. I was sitting here doubting the cat ever really did scratch or bite anyone. It sounded like the sort of thing a cat killer might make up when the police came knocking.

    3. American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine – can contact them –

      “Integrative Holistic Medicine Defined
      Integrative Medicine — the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between the practitioner and the patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.

      (Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine Steering Committee)
      Holistic Medicine — medical care that views physical and mental and spiritual aspects of life as closely interconnected and equally important approaches to treatment.
      Integrative Holistic Medicine is the art and science of healing that addresses care of the whole person: body, mind, and spirit.”

      Guess her solving issues is reserved for people, but I’m left questioning if she’s good at that either. “The challenge presented to SMG was to create a concept that effectively communicates Dr. Russell’s unique holistic approach to medicine. Many of her patients suffer from maladies that have remained mysteries to other physicians. So the concept of solving a puzzle is a truly accurate depiction of her process … ” –

  5. Well what is kind of handy is that we now know how crimes in Platte County will be prioritized by the local judicial authorities. Apparently, as long as there is not sufficient outcry from residents over murders and rapes, crimes below that bar will not be prosecuted.

    Personally, I would label crimes such as shoplifting and burglary as lesser crimes than murder and rape. It’s good to know that if I want to commit these crimes, Platte County sounds like the place to go.

    I might make a run this weekend because I need a new TV set. Does anybody need me to pick up anything? You’ll have to reimburse me for shipping, and I do charge a “convenience fee”. But it should still be worth your while.

    1. I think car theft is not as bad as murder and rape, so can you get me something nice in blue, please?

    2. As long as you’re shopping for electronics, I really really would love to have a new laptop. Shipping shouldn’t be all that bad, either, but I’m not sure if I can afford your “convenience fee”.

    3. I know bank robbery is a serious crime but surely far less serious than murder or rape, especially if you use a finger gun inside a hoodie pocket. I’ll take 1 million dollars in non-sequential bills please.

  6. So “the cat bit and scratched his fiancee after they returned from church”. Maybe god was trying to tell Thomas Newhouse something about his Fiancee, and not the cat. This voices in his head must be confusing. Nice to see church goers treating God’s creatures with compassion and love that is the stated basis of most religions.

    1. Yeah, I noticed that they were church – goers. Doesn’t make them loving or compassionate. Just means they go to church. SIGH . . .

  7. Please DON’T have children!!! Any of you in the article. PLEASE DON’T PROCREATE


    Hey, it’s too bad that when all of you were children that if you bit or scratched anyone that your parents didn’t kill you. Hey, that sounds crazy… think about your actions

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