Alley Cat Allies sent the following letter to the prosecutor in the case of Ellie the cat, who was horrifically tortured and killed in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Her torturer and killer recently pleaded guilty. We applaud the strict action taken and call for the strongest possible punishment for this heinous act of senseless cruelty. We are offering our assistance in ensuring justice is served.

On behalf of Allies Cat Allies and our more than 54,000 supporters in New Jersey, I am writing in support of your prosecution of Bani J. Mezquititla for the unlawful and horrific torture of the cat known as Ellie in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Alley Cat Allies is the leading advocacy organization with a mission to protect and improve the lives of all cats and kittens. Since our founding in 1990, we have worked in communities large and small to develop humane, evidence-based policies for cats and take strong action, including in court, against incidents of cruelty to cats. Our organization applauds your leadership in addressing this case with the diligence and commitment it deserves.

Far too often, our judicial system does not adequately recognize the implications of cruelty to animals and, as a result, does not work to ensure the abusers receive a punishment that reflects the severity of the crime. To underestimate the depravity of animal cruelty and the harm it causes is to fail to recognize cats as sentient beings with inherent value who suffer and feel pain, and deserve neither. It is also a grave failure to grasp the role of cruelty to cats in the greater landscape of violence in our society.

As you may know, the link between animal cruelty and child abuse, domestic violence, and adverse mental health and community health outcomes is well established, and research has found that violence against animals is predictive of, and often co-occurring with, violence against humans. To protect us all, animals and people, it is critical to enforce our animal cruelty laws.

The allegations surrounding Mezquititla’s torture of Ellie are egregious and extremely disturbing. While Ellie is the known direct victim, the community at large is also at risk. Animal abuse does not occur in a vacuum, and acts of violence toward cats are a public crisis. Violent perpetrators must be held accountable for their crimes and sentenced with appropriate severity to deter future abusive conduct and enhance community safety.

We appreciate your efforts to pursue the animal cruelty charges against Mr. Mezquititla and to seek the maximum possible sentence, which includes incarceration and a permanent ban on owning or possessing any animal. We would also encourage you to advocate for mandated mental health treatment if such treatment is not automatically included as part of an incarceration order. Further, due to the possibility of parole, Mezquititla should be subjected to random inspections by law enforcement while on parole for the purpose of ensuring that no animals are in his possession. Because animal cruelty crimes committed inside private residences often go undetected, inspections are critical to ensuring that Mezquititla does not acquire an animal.

Alley Cat Allies wishes to offer continued support and assistance to ensure this case concludes in a manner that brings justice to the victim and sets a standard for future investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty.