Innocent Kitten Suffered And Died After Being Burned In Firepit: Man Charged With Aggravated Animal Cruelty

Published: October 03, 2022 at 05:35 PM Author: PENNY EIMS

Portland, Tennesee – A Tennessee man is accused of a horrific act of cruelty that caused a young kitten unbearable pain, and ultimately, claimed his life. The five-week-old kitten was found on September 19 in a vacant area of Portland. Every ounce of his little body was burned after 39-year-old Richard Russell threw him into a fire pit.

True Rescue took the severely burned kitten under its wing, naming him Phoenix with the hope that he would rise from the ashes and survive the unspeakable cruelty he had been subjected to. But the damage from the smoke and flames was too severe for the tiny kitten to overcome. After Phoenix passed away, the heartbroken rescuers said:

We are devastated to report that we lost Phoenix early this morning. His tiny body was just unable to fight off the horrible burns he was dealing with, plus the smoke inhalation. We did everything we could to keep him comfortable, but he succumbed to an easier life on the other side, where no one will ever harm him again. This would have been a tough road ahead, one that we would have taken with him, should he have continued, but his poor body had just been through too much.

According to the police investigation, Russell previously had custody of the kitten; it was determined that Phoenix was burned on Saturday and he suffered for two days before being found by the concerned citizen who reached out to the police. The investigation led to Russell’s arrest and a charge of aggravated animal cruelty; he was booked into the Sumner County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

Please add your name to the petition today. Richard Russell’s actions are appalling and he must face true punishment for killing an innocent kitten. There is absolutely NO excuse for the pain and suffering this man caused Phoenix to endure.

We the undersigned demand that Richard Russell is held responsible for throwing a five-week-old kitten into a fire pit and causing the kitten unimaginable pain and suffering, ultimately causing injuries so severe that they claimed his young life. We are petitioning for Russell to receive the maximum punishment allowable by law for his felony charge of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals. At sentencing, we hope to see Russell prohibited from owning or residing with animals in the future. 

Note: Individuals are presumed innocent until they have been found guilty in a court of law. Animal Victory relies upon the authorities and the court system to determine guilt or innocence.


Fox 17


Fox 17

Update 11/4/2022: VICTORY! Animal Victory spoke with the attorney Dan Daugherty. The defendant was sentenced to 180 days in jail, serving all 180 days. Dan pushed to make sure that the defendant is ordered to NEVER own, transport, watch, or be in possession of a cat for the remainder of his lifetime. He stated the law does not let him do all animals, he wishes it would, he can only do the animal the crime was against. Dan told us if this person is EVER caught around a cat, he does not have to be harming it, he will still be in violation.  Great job Attorney Dan Daugherty! Thank you to everyone who signed the petition!

10/25/2022: Court documents indicate that this case has been disposed of, but there is a hearing scheduled for November 9, 2022, at 9 a.m. 

Russell Felony



19,573 signatures = 98% of goal

Latest Signatures
19,573 Ozzie B. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,572 Monica A. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,571 Jody M. Although not ideal, especially for poor dogs, I do understand why deputy acted this way. At least he fed and watered poor creatures. The bastard previous owners mistreated and abandoned these dogs, likely no available shelter nearby that wasn’t already beyond full. Not enough good people and homes, too many great dogs. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,570 Harry A. I am sick. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,569 Michael M. This is not a human. It can't be. Even with all the evil around, they all pale compared to this. May he die violently, Motherfucker. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,568 linda c. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,567 Jacqueline M. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,566 Marcie W. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,565 Tyler R. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,564 Kris R. This is absolutely heinous! Please take action!!!! 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,563 Rosie A. Please! Please let me at least leave a world more concerned for sentient beings than it has been for centuries. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,562 Mari L. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,561 Christine K. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,560 denise n. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,559 Stephanie L. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,558 Donna L. Common sense should have been used. Working as a Deputy he should have checked and worked with the local shelters and fosters to find a temporary home. The Deputy should be given the absolute MAXIMUM sentence for his cruelty!!! He should lose his job and NEVER SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO EVER HAVE OR BE IN CONTACT WITH ANY ANIMAL EVER AGAIN!!!! 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,557 glenn c. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,556 Jessica A. At the very least this deputy needs to be fired, though a full investigation into who gave the order and department “policy” needs to be done. How can we say to respect and trust LEO when they murder innocent animals who have done nothing wrong but been abandoned by cruel humans. Disgusting sheriff’s department and board of supervisors for saying these actions are ok. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,555 Paula P. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,554 Lindsay B. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,553 Heather M. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,552 Pamela L. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,551 Kristin W. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,550 Karla M. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,549 KAREN S. This horrendous act of shooting these poor innocent puppies is absolutely shocking cold and calculating. This was completely uncalled for and the deputy needs to do the time for this crime. Plus the monsters who left them there..Don't get it not one bit someone must pay.!!! 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,548 Kristin R. Lock this horrible cop up!! 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,547 David C. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,546 Caroline B. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,545 Caroline B. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,544 Caroline H. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,543 Kimberly .. He should lose his badge pay huge fines do at least 5 years or more in jail have to volunteer at some animal rescue being supervised of course at all times and never be able to own another animal again 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,542 Rebecca O. 0 Jun 22, 2024
19,541 Deborah D. Anyone who would do such a cruel deed as this is psychopathic and very dangerous. He should never be allowed to carry a gun or own an animal, then he should be castrated because he isn’t really a man, he’s a monster. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,540 Jean L. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,539 Shayla R. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,538 Catherine G. There must have been a more humane option. This action by the deputy is heartless. This is not the way law enforcement gains community trust. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,537 April S. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,536 Sandra P. What the heck are people just going stupid.these animals are just wanting a friend and someone to take care of them and this idiot killed them he needs the same thing done to him poor babies. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,535 Nick L. Fire him and send him to prison 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,534 Dora W. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,533 Mary M. That poor excuse for a human should at the very least be fired and run out of town!!! 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,532 Lisa R. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,531 Lisa S. You murdered those puppies and should be put in prison 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,530 Tammy T. What a psycho!! POS doesn't need to be carrying a gun!! Needs to use it on himself! 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,529 BIJAN F. Prosecute this violent cop to the highest extent of the law. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,528 BIJAN F. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,527 Deadra G. 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,526 Karen r. Please put the scumbag in jail 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,525Anonymous 0 Jun 21, 2024
19,524 Bita R. 0 Jun 21, 2024

Prior Signatures 15,085