CAMBRIDGE, Ill. (KWQC) - The 17-year-old accused of slashing a puppy in Kewanee back in July appeared in court for the first time Thursday. He's charged with animal torture as well as aggravated animal cruelty. The Henry County State's Attorney wants him to be tried as an adult.
The case has sparked anger in the community. Outside the court hearing, advocates demonstrated for a hard line against animal abuse.
Inside the juvenile courtroom, where the public's not allowed, the judge read the charges and described the accusations against the 17-year-old. He's accused of using a box cutter to slit the puppy's throat several times before tying it up in a bag. The juvenile didn't have a lawyer so the judge appointed him one.
Outside of the nearly empty juvenile courtroom, supporters of the puppy now named "Thor" rallied for justice.
Organizer Stephanie Ince said, "This isn't just about Thor, this is about all animals around the world, that are abused or neglected on a daily basis."
Ince wrote a petition asking for the 17-year-old to be charged as an adult.
"He's grown enough to cut a puppy's throat and leave him to die, he's grown enough to be charged as an adult," said Ince.
She said Thor's case has grabbed attention worldwide.
"We're at 48,000 signatures right now, 70 different countries, and that was just when we stopped counting, the response has been amazing," said Ince.
14-year-old Jersi Warner works at the shelter Thor was taken to.
Warner said, "It's sad because I don't know why someone would do that, but I hope he gets justice."
She said it's important for Thor's supporters to be here to advocate for an animal with no voice in court.
"It's nice to get some more support and have more people show up here and show how many people care," said Warner.
Ince plans to keep the pressure on, as this case winds its way through the justice system.
"I've always been an adamant animal lover, so when I heard about Thor's story I wanted to help," said Ince.
The juvenile's next court date is set for August 23rd. At that time the judge may rule on whether the teenager will be tried as an adult. That will depend on whether the teen's attorney is ready to represent him on that aspect of the case.
If the teenager is convicted Illinois law requires the judge to order him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.