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Marshfield woman defends video after allegations of animal abuse

By Lauren Pozen, Reporter, lpozen@kspr.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 08:29:33 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 22 2013 10:23:38 PM CST

Channing Stevens says she is pushing a cat as seen in a video circulating around the Ozarks. Some say what the video shows is a clear case of animal abuse.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -

Two people have been arrested in a possible animal abuse case we first told you about on KSPR News at 5, but authorities aren't saying whether or not it's a woman in a video that has been seen by many people in the Ozarks.

Channing Stevens says she makes videos all the time. Last week, she posted a video with her friend's cat, Smokey. The video, which some people might find upsetting, is generating a lot of reaction -- but Stevens says people are taking it out of context.

She's spent her entire life around animals -- "horses, cats, dogs, anything you can imagine," Stevens says -- and even came to our interview with three cats shown in her videos and her puppy.

"He's only five weeks old. He shouldn't even be off his mother right now but I'm having to bottle feed him, he's just the sweetest baby ever," Stevens says, showing off the puppy during our interview.

But it's a video with a cat named Smokey that's making some people think she's not the animal lover she claims to be.

"I was just making silly videos for my friends. i didn't think it would explode like this," Stevens said.

Stevens says the video shows her pushing a cat out of the air after a friend throws it toward her.

"I'm pushing the cat out of the air. Pushing," Stevens said. "I don't think that's abusive at all. If I was, like hitting them -- like hard -- I would definitely think that was abusive."

But Whitney Neumeier, who lends her services to an animal rescue group in the Ozarks, says it's clear what Stevens is doing in the video.

"It doesn't look like there was any intention of her catching the cat," Neumeier said. "There was a loud thud, which would indicate to most people that there was not anything there to catch it. I think that it is clearly a form of animal abuse."

Stevens, however, says Smokey landed on a soft surface.

"They all landed on towels, so I guess they just landed kind of hard. But he was fine -- he came back to his purring and wanted to cuddle up next to us again," Stevens said.

Stevens defends the video and says she did nothing wrong.

"Since it's just filmed from one angle, you can't see the inside of the bathtub. You can't see over on the floor where they landed," Stevens said.

Another animal activist disagrees. Jerry Zimmerman says animals treated in the way the video shows will show long-term effects over time.

"It will start hiding and it will start acting out," Zimmerman said. "And then they will get upset because the cat has bit them or clawed them, and they think it is the cat's fault when it is just reacting to the situation."

Meanwhile, Stevens says the criticism of the video has boiled over.

"My mom has gotten harassing phone calls, calling me crying. People are telling me to kill myself and it's just crazy stuff like that. Ridiculous," Stevens said.

Since posting this story Saturday on KSPR's Facebook page, more than 300 people have commented -- some of them supporting the teen, others not so much.

"I don't regret making the video," Stevens said. "I think that the people here are incredibly harsh about the video when it's not even their place at all."

When asked if she was going to make videos in the future, Stevens said she would.

"Of course. of course. That's not going to stop me from entertaining my friends," Stevens said.

No charges have been filed against Channing Stevens, and again, authorities would not say whether or not she was one of two people taken into custody on Sunday evening. The two arrested are being held for 24 hours while authorities consider whether or not to ask prosecutors to charge them with any crime.

As for the cat in the video shown, it did not belong to Stevens. Stevens says the only animal she owns is a five-week puppy.