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TX Pastor Labeled 'Cat Killer' Faces Civil Suit

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on March 20, 2012 10:02 AM

A Texas pastor called a "cat killer" for allegedly throwing his neighbor's cat off a bridge is being sued for negligence in the cat's untimely death.

Pastor Rick Bartlett of Bastrop, Texas, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty after joggers found the 12-year-old cat, Moody, at the bottom of a bridge, the Huffington Post reports.

But the cat's owners aren't waiting for the results of Bartlett's criminal case, which is making its way through the courts. They filed a civil lawsuit that reveals new details about the pastor's alleged animal abuse.

Alleged cat killer Pastor Rick Bartlett told police he thought Moody was a stray when he caged the cat in January, HuffPo reports. That's despite the fact the feline wore a collar with its owners' contact information, the lawsuit asserts.

Bartlett allegedly put Moody in a cage in the back of his truck -- then forgot about the cat for three days. Moody's frantic attempts to escape resulted in the pads of the cat's paws being ripped off, the lawsuit claims.

Bartlett then took Moody to animal control. An officer noticed Moody's collar, and Bartlett said he'd return the cat to his neighbors, reports the HuffPo. But joggers found the cat at the bottom of a bridge later that day.

The civil lawsuit alleges theft -- that Bartlett stole Moody with no intention of returning the cat -- along with negligence and conversion.

The negligence claim alleges Bartlett violated two local laws that impose legal duties on anyone in custody of an animal. One law requires a person to properly care for animals in his custody; another requires animals to be secured while being transported in vehicles.

Bartlett claims Moody jumped out of his moving truck when Bartlett opened the cat's cage, HuffPo reports.

Finally, the conversion claim alleges the plaintiffs' property -- in this case, Moody the cat -- was so damaged or destroyed, they deserve compensation. Conversion is similar to theft, but does not require an element of dishonesty.

Moody's owners are seeking an unspecified amount of damages in their civil lawsuit. Accused cat killer Pastor Rick Bartlett remains free on bond.

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