Penelope the cat, who was allegedly beaten so badly she had to be euthanized. Submitted photo

By Shereen Siewert

A Wausau-area man is jailed and facing criminal charges after allegedly beating his girlfriend’s cat so brutally the animal lost an eye and was euthanized due to the extent of her injuries.

Andrew Gehr booking photo courtesy of the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department

Andrew Gehr, 30, faces a misdemeanor charge of animal mistreatment. But his girlfriend’s friends and family members say they want Gehr to face felony charges and be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Court records show officers were called at about 8:25 a.m. Aug. 22 to a home on Robb Street in Schofield for a report of a family disturbance. When officers arrived, they discovered Gehr’s girlfriend’s pet cat, Penelope, in a shed in the backyard, her eye popped out of its socket and her nose and mouth encrusted with blood and dirt.

Police say Gehr, who was living at the home at the time, told his young daughter to go play downstairs, then took the cat, beat her within inches of her life and hid her near-lifeless body in the shed of their shared home. Gehr’s girlfriend searched for Penelope for days – all while Gehr assisted in the “search” and acted as though he knew nothing.

Lisa Fliss, the mother of Gehr’s former girlfriend, told Wausau Pilot & Review her daughter is devastated.

“I don’t know what evil was going through his mind,” Fliss said. “What kind of person does that? And acts like nothing happened?”

At the scene, police found blood and urine, along with the cat’s bedding, which was stained with blood and had been thrown in the trash, according to court documents. Gehr allegedly admitted punching Penelope’s Ken el weeks earlier after the cat bit him and suggested he was going to “see a doctor for help,” the complaint states.

Gehr was arrested and taken to the Marathon County Jail. Penelope was taken to a local vet, who determined her injuries were similar to those which resulted from being “kicked by a horse, being in a dog fight or hit by a car,” the complaint states. The cat was euthanized due to the extent of her injuries, which likely resulted in total blindness and loss of brain function, court documents state.

On Monday, prosecutors filed a charge of animal mistreatment against Gehr, a class A misdemeanor. But Fliss, along with a group of her daughter’s friends, are adamant that Gehr should face a felony charge.

“I don’t care what we have to do as a family or as a community, but we want justice for Penelope, and for my daughter,” Fliss said. “This is not right.”

During an initial appearance, Reserve Judge Jill Falstad ordered Gehr not to own any animals or pets. He is being held on a signature bond and remains jailed on a probation hold, which is tied to an unrelated case.

Several friends say they are planning a march for justice on or around Gehr’s next court date, which is Oct. 15.