Teen’s Arrest in Cat Killing Prompts PETA’s Push for Empathy Lessons to Prevent Future Violence

For Immediate Release:
October 27, 2022

Lauren Kent 202-483-7382

Orangevale, Calif. – Amid reports of local residents discovering that their cats were dead or missing, 18-year-old Colin Lendewig was arrested on Tuesday and charged with both cruelty to animals and petty theft after home surveillance video captured him stealing cats and then appearing to kill one just off camera. In response, TeachKind, PETA’s humane education division, sent an urgent letter this morning to San Juan Unified School District Superintendent Kent Kern providing educators with kindness-to-animals curricula and “Empathy Now,” a guide to preventing all kinds of violence by young people. Research shows that 43% of school shooters, including the perpetrator at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, first committed acts of cruelty against animals.

“If a teenager has been killing cats in the area, alarm bells signaling even greater danger ahead should be sounding and urgent intervention is needed to protect all sentient beings,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “Compassion and empathy can be learned, and TeachKind is on standby to help teach young people that violence is wrong, whether the victim is a cat or a classmate.”

Juvenile animal abusers are a known potential serious threat to the community. That’s also one of the reasons why PETA urges people to keep their cats indoors. Dogs and cats should never be allowed to roam unattended outdoors, where they may be taken, attacked by other animals, or abused by cruel people.

TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—is also offering to send schools its free high school empathy-building curriculum, Challenging Assumptions, and its Share the World program kit for elementary school students in the area.

For more information, please visit TeachKind.org or follow the group on Facebook or Instagram.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind