BASTROP COUNTY, TEXAS – Bastrop Christian Church Pastor Rick Bartlett was arrested Friday for allegedly throwing his neighbor’s cat off a bridge where it fell 50-feet.
Rev. Bartlett was charged with cruelty to non-livestock animals after a severely injured cat was found on the Riverwalk near the Loop 150 bridge in Bastrop and later died.
The Bell family was devastated after they received a call from the city informing them that Moody, their 12-year-old cat had been killed.
“Moody suffered at the hands of this man, Rick Bartlett. Moody was such a sweet boy, and when I think about how he died and how scared he must have been to have this strange man hurting him, it breaks my heart,” said Moody’s owner Sara Bell.
Bartlett reportedly told police that he had captured the cat last Sunday in a trap on his property and then forgot about it until Tuesday. That’s when he brought it to the police department.
Investigators say the cat had ID tags and that Bartlett volunteered to return it to the Bell’s. But Bartlett never returned the cat.
According to Bastrop police, Bartlett has told them somewhat conflicting stories. He claims he went back to his truck near the Bastrop Christian Church and that the cat was gone. He later said he opened the cage an drove off, hoping that the cat would jump out.
But Bartlett’s story began to unravel after a resident found the badly injured cat on the Riverwalk and called Bastrop County Animal Control. An officer recognized the cat as the same one that Bartlett had brought into his office earlier in the day.
“This man (Bartlett ) lives just three houses down from me, on my same street. If he would have just told us Moody was bothering him, even one time, we would have gladly done something about it. Rick Bartlett, he calls himself a man of God?” Bell said.
A veterinarian determined that Moody suffered lung damage from blunt force trauma and that his injuries were not consistent with with being hit by a car.
The Bell’s are pointing the finger at the pastor.
“The wreckage Rick Barlett has caused in our lives in tremendous. My 5-year-old daughter was inconsolable, crying hysterically while clutching Moody’s collar. Screaming ‘I want Moody back, why, why, why.’ How do I explain to my young child that cruelty like this exists in this world? She is too young to know the evil ways of men like this,” Bell said.