Just weeks after a Harrisonburg police officer beat a dying cat to death, there is now an outside investigation underway thanks to pressure from several national groups.
Harrisonburg resident Wayne Meadows contacted WHSV after he said he witnessed an officer beating a cat with a nightstick to put it down.
Meadows found the cat late at night after it was hit by a car in November.
He then contacted Harrisonburg police.
Now, after pressure from groups like PETA, there will be a formal investigation.
Teresa Chagrin, an animal care and control specialist with PETA, said she's glad a formal investigation has been launched.
"The description by the eye witness of what happened was gruesome," Chagrin said. "It sounds very likely to be a violation of the anti-cruelty statute of Virginia."
Virginia State Police are leading the investigation.
Britt Cocanour, executive director of cat advocacy group Alley Cat Allies, based in Maryland, said they want to see charges.
"Based on what we've heard, [the officer] also committed a horrific act of animal cruelty and that can be prosecuted through the Commonwealth's Attorney in the state of Virginia.
Cocanour said they've fielded hundreds of phone calls from concerned residents from all over the state about the situation.
"They have in turn communicated back to the city because they're so concerned about this case," Cocanour said. "They want to make sure the citizens hear what happened and that there's accountability."
Representatives from PETA also said it's important for pet owners to take care of their animals so things like this don't happen again.
"Of the dozens of the cruelty cases PETA receives every single day, the majority of animals who were victimized were left outdoors unattended."