Iowa Boy Accused of Killing the Family Pets On Purpose

Austin Gillis Young boy in Iowa is accused of killing three pets by injecting them with lethal doses of insulin

An 11-year-old boy in Iowa is accused of purposefully killing his family’s three animals. Investigators say the child injected two dogs and a cat with insulin. The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office says the boy will face charges. This happened in the tiny town of Rhodes, which is about 35 miles northeast of the state capital of Des Moines.

Here’s what you need to know.


The Animals Were Each Injected with a Month’s Worth of Insulin

The child’s mother called 911 on July 12th, telling deputies that she needed help with her son. When deputies arrived at the home, they found two dogs and a cat struggling to breath. They called Diamond in the Ruff, a local volunteer animal rescue organization, to help care for the animals.

All three pets had been injected with massive amounts of insulin. Investigators say they found three empty vials of insulin near the pets. Each vial would have held a 30-day supply. The police chief of the State Center Police Department said the boy’s mother had a prescription for insulin and that he likely stole the medication from her.

Local TV station KCRG spoke with Austin Gillis, one of the animal rescue workers. He told reporters he hopes that the child is held responsible. “For these animals to be injected with lethal doses of anything, whether it be insulin or any other kind of medicine, is just beyond comprehension.”


Iowa is Not Known for Being Especially Tough When it Comes to Animal Cruelty Laws

Under Iowa law, animal abuse is a misdemeanor. It can be upgraded to a felony charge if the defendant has a history of similar crimes. The law states, “A person is guilty of animal abuse if the person intentionally injures, maims, disfigures, or destroys an animal owned by another person, in any manner, including intentionally poisoning the animal. A person guilty of animal abuse is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.”

Animal torture, on the other hand, can apply to the owner as well. “A person is guilty of animal torture, regardless of whether the person is the owner of the animal, if the person inflicts upon the animal severe physical pain with a depraved or sadistic intent to cause prolonged suffering or death.”

If a person is convicted of animal abuse, the punishment includes undergoing a psychological evaluation and treatment. Community service is also a typical court order, often at an animal shelter.

Iowa law also states that juvenile courts “have exclusive original jurisdiction in a proceeding concerning a child who is alleged to have committed animal torture… The juvenile court shall not waive jurisdiction in a proceeding concerning an offense alleged to have been committed by a child under the age of seventeen.”