Mittens the cat’s killers sentenced to 5 months in jail, lifetime ban on owning animals

A man and woman convicted of killing a cat in Port aux Basques have been…

A man and woman convicted of killing a cat in Port aux Basques have been sentenced to five months in jail, two years of probation and a lifetime ban on owning or living with an animal.

Jody Anderson, 40, and Peter Rossiter, 53, were sentenced in Stephenville provincial court Friday afternoon and taken into custody.

Mittens the cat, under the foster care of Anderson, was killed with an axe in Sept. 2019.

Police charged Anderson and Rossiter the following month, and in December 2020 both were found guilty of injuring or endangering an animal.

But sentencing was delayed when Rossiter reported having COVID-19-like symptoms ahead of previous sentencing hearings.

The Crown asked the court for a sentence of 20 to 24 months in prison, while the defence wanted 3 months. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years.

During the trial, a Crown witness testified she saw someone take Mittens into the bathroom at Anderson’s apartment, then saw Anderson and Rossiter go in with an axe and a garbage bag.

The witness said when the pair left the bathroom, there was something in the garbage bag and Mittens was nowhere to be found.

Velda Pretty, a volunteer with a local cat rescue group, testified that Anderson began fostering Mittens after the cat’s original owner died. She said in a victim impact statement that she now feels guilty for trusting Anderson with the cat and has had trouble sleeping.

While delivering the sentence Friday, Judge Lynn Cole said both Anderson and Rossiter suffered trauma during their childhoods and had issues with drug and alcohol abuse.

Anderson has suffered harassment since the incident, both in public and on social media, Cole said, and no longer feels safe leaving her home.

Cole said both Anderson and Rossiter have prior criminal records, including charges of assault, and acted together to kill Mittens.

However, Cole said this case doesn’t have the level of extreme violence or suffering necessary to meet the precedent shown by the Crown in previous animal cruelty cases.

While Anderson is considered a medium risk to reoffend and Rossiter is considered a high risk, Cole said both have had extended breaks in between criminal offences, and she believes they could be rehabilitated.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador