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Former Zion man gets year in jail for kicking cat
By Tony Gordon | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 4/3/2009 12:07 AM

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A former Zion man who admitted violently kicking his cat will be in jail for a year when he is not receiving treatment or looking for work.

Lake County Circuit Judge John Phillips also ordered Jack Henderson to keep his distance - specifically 50 feet - from all animals while he is on probation.

"You are to have no contact with, nor ownership of, any animal and you cannot be within 50 feet of an animal of any kind," Phillips told Henderson. "If you are walking down the sidewalk and you see someone walking a dog towards you, you cross the street."

Henderson, who told Phillips he is now homeless, was arrested Aug. 23 after his girlfriend called police and said he was beating his cat.

When police arrived, they found Winnie the cat nearly unconscious and bleeding heavily from the mouth.

The cat had to be euthanized a short time later.

Henderson originally told police he had kicked Winnie after she scratched his arm, but later said he had "blacked out" and could not remember what had happened to the cat.

He was originally charged with animal torture, but Assistant State's Attorney Michael Mermel agreed to reduce the charge to aggravated cruelty to an animal in exchange for Henderson's Feb. 24 guilty plea.

Phillips told Henderson he could send him to prison for up to three years, but said Henderson would likely be released in about one year and would receive no treatment.

Instead, Phillips chose the jail term and 30 months probation for Henderson, who must complete mental health, substance abuse and anger management treatment during that time.

Phillips also ordered Henderson to perform 200 hours of public service while he is on probation.