A police probe is underway after a kitten was killed when it was hurled at animal rights activists – from a moving car.
The six to ten-week-old tabby broke its leg and died shortly after it hit the ground at the feet of campaigners protesting against Japan's slaughter of dolphins in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The incident, which saw the tiny animal thrown from a silver Hyundai Sonata, occurred on 1 September, WSOC-TV reported.
“A guy stopped and threw a kitten out into the street in front of us,” protest organiser Bruce Pinckney told the Examiner.
He added: “When the kitten impacted the street, its leg broke, it panicked, it ran in like a semicircle and was in obvious extreme pain.
“One of our people was able to scoop it up and cradle it.”
Demonstrators at the event decided to name the deceased kitten "Little Ric" in honor of Ric O'Barry, the campaign manager for The Dolphin Project.
The animal died around ten minutes later of blood loss due to internal injuries, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Under North Carolina code, the crime could be charged as a class H felony. If convicted, the perpetrator could face six months in custody on a first offence.
Now as well as a police probe, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has announced a $2,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.