No jail for Florida man accused of setting cat on fire, feeding it to dogs

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MIAMI, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida man who pleaded guilty to one count of felony animal abuse for burning an animal alive and feeding it to his dogs was sentenced to five years of probation, plus 100 hours of community service, NBC Miami reported.

Roberto Hernandez, 19, must also undergo a psychological evaluation and submit to judicial monitoring every 30 days, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

Surveillance video shows Hernandez pouring a flammable liquid on a live black cat that was caged and defenseless. Then he set it on fire, according to the news station. 

Police said the animal was “in extreme pain and suffering seeking to escape while burning alive,” according to the arrest report. 

Prosecutors said Hernandez watched the animal burn to death, then fed its charred remains to his dogs.

The incident occurred in 2016 outside of his home in southwest Miami-Dade. Hernandez was 17 at the time. 

A witness, Marlene Gonzalez, reported the incident to police and told officers that Hernandez appeared “very entertained” as the animal was dying.

But Hernandez’s family members say the animal was a raccoon, not a cat.

“There was an animal on the loose and neighbors were complaining about it,” said Hernandez’s grandmother Babelin Rodriguez. “The animals kept biting the chickens, biting their legs, so they put a cage to catch this animal. When the animal was caught in the morning, he found that it was a raccoon.”

“All he would see in his head is that animal is going to get loose,” said Rodriguez. “It’s going to bite the dogs. The raccoon is going to bite the dogs and him, so that’s the first instinct he had.”

Prosecutors recommended Hernandez be given 364 days in jail.

“While we are disappointed with the sentence imposed on Roberto Hernandez, which excluded our recommendation he serve time in jail, it is our sincere hope that this young man who brutally caused the torture and death of a defenseless caged cat, will adhere to any suggested psychological or psychiatric treatment imposed by a duly qualified physician,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.

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