Sometime around May 26, someone allegedly put six kittens in a plastic tote and brought it to a home on the 225 block of Ash Street in Hawthorne. That person placed stones on the tote lid for weight and left the kittens in the tote without food and water.

On May 28, Mineral County Animal Control Officer, Dan Brogden, received a call about the tote and its contents from the owner. When Brogden arrived on scene to investigate, he found all six kittens dead.

Brogden and Mineral County Sheriff Stewart Handte both described themselves as incensed about the incident.

Both men sat down for an interview with the Independent-News to discuss the tragedy.

“I haven’t been that mad, that quickly, in many, many years,” said Sheriff Handte.

“It’s obvious from the photos, that these kittens suffered a horrible, horrible death,” Brogden said.

When the owner of the home eventually found the kittens, she told Brogden that she assumed the tote belonged to her daughter, who was moving in with her.

“After I was called, I photographed and took care of the situation. Upon investigation I found the suspect had left the tote. He later stated, not in my presence, that he left the tote there per instructions from his ex-girlfriend.”

“The girlfriend stated to me during the interview that she told the suspect to call Yvonne Downs of the Ray of Hope Humane Society, or myself.” Brogden said. Handte wondered out loud why the suspect didn’t deposit the animals in a legitimate carrier with adequate food, water and air.

“This person, in no way, shape or form should have any pets,” Handte said.

Handte said he expects to make an arrest on the case very soon and hand prosecution over to the district attorney. “As sheriff of this county and as a pet owner, the suspect will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Handte also said the Humane Society red-flagged the suspect, thus prohibiting him from adopting pets.

What infuriated Brogden was that the kittens were welcome at his shelter. “We take in animals and often find good homes for them—just about daily.”

The sheriff emphasized that although the suspect admitted he left the cats in the tote at Ash Street, he is still only considered a suspect while the case is still under investigation

Handte had nothing but praise for Brogden’s role in the incident as well as his job performance: “There’s a reason Dan is where he is. He is the epitome of what we need to have as an animal control officer.”

Officials have not yet arrested any of the parties involved, or issued a citation. Officials say this is because of the difficulty in proving deliberate animal abuse or simple neglect, which fall under two different statutes.

Handte said Deputy Gabe Andrada is currently investigating the case in tandem with Brogden. The sheriff also expects the issue of a citation or an arrest warrant in the very near future.