BUTTE — Before she had gone missing, Apollo the cat was a lover. She gave strangers nose kisses and greeted everyone who stepped into the apartment with a meow.
But then - Cyndi Maurer, Apollo’s owner, accidentally left the door open and Apollo escaped.
"We searched and searched, put flyers out. We did everything to try and find her," said Maurer.
Two months had passed and just as the family was about to give up, Maurer saw a cat lying on the ground.
"I went around, got out of my car, went around, seen the cat, dropped to my knees as soon as I saw her because it was her."
Apollo had been tortured. String or rubber bands had been tied around her ears, her tail had been dipped in acid, and the bottom of her paws had been sliced.
"The way she looked at me, with the desperation of and the will to live was heart-wrenching. Being able to see that light still in her eyes that she wanted to live, she just wanted somebody to see her," said Maurer.
Apollo ended up losing both of her ears, she lost about three inches of her tail and she no longer has the top toe pads. The veterinarian told Maurer that what happened to Apollo looked too clean to be an accident.
Sheryln Hatch Willis’ dog Kenai had only been missing for nine minutes when she encountered him slumped against the garage door.
Kenai had been shot and had blunt force trauma to his body. Kenai had spent days in and out of hospitals, not able to keep his food down and lethargic. Kenai had to go through multiple surgeries.
Both cases went unreported.
Sheriff Ed Lester said that it’s important for animal cruelty cases to be reported.
"One of the big concerns you have with any animal cruelty case is in certain instances it’s been documented that people who are cruel to animals or injure animals can graduate that behavior to where they injure people," said Lester.
According to the Animal Welfare Institute, Montana ranks sixth in animal cruelty incidents.
The maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty in Montana is 2 years or a $2,500 fine.
Sheriff Lester said there have only been a few reported cases of animal cruelty and that animal cruelty can sometimes be labeled under other cases.
Both animals are home now. To report animal abuse in Butte-Silver Bow County, contact animal control at (406) 497-6527.