Nearly $50,000 (£40,900) has been raised as a reward for information leading to the arrest of a cat torturer in Clearfield, Utah. The Humane Society of Northern Utah collected the money after the grisly murder of Sage, a pet cat.

Six-year-old Sage had been missing for four days when he crawled back to his family home on 8 March with horrific injuries including broken ribs and paws, hot glue burns and damaged genitals. He died the next day.

His story became widely shared on social media after owner China Rose Cassel uploaded pictures of the battered creature in his final hours. Now people from all over the world have donated money to help find his killer.

The Humane Society of Northern Utah described Sage's condition as "among the worst" it had ever seen. After his death, the group's Facebook page read: "Little Sage passed away. He fought so hard.... but was just too broken. He went downhill really fast and they did CPR but he was gone."

The society had already begun the fundraising campaign by reallocating $5,000 of its own reserves for any information which leads to the capture of the culprit. But contributions from other animal welfare organisations and hundreds of individuals have now brought the total fund to $47,000.

Meanwhile, a vigil planned to remember Sage and raise awareness for animal cruelty was attended by 150 people on Sunday (12 March), according to local reports. Attendees lit candles, held a minute's silence and held posters reading "Justice for Sage" at the event.

Local police are investigating the incident but have so far not announced any leads. They are reportedly being assisted by a retired police officer who has volunteered his services free of charge after hearing about the case.

Speaking at the Vigil, Casel told Fox: "I'm so amazed with just how many people showed up for Sage... I don't want other families to have to go through this, to suffer the way we've had to suffer."

Animal abuse expert Dr Frank Ascione said: "It's very clear that this individual is in need of mental health attention... The correlation between violence toward animals and violence toward people is now firmly established.

Anyone with information regarding Sage's case should call Davis County Animal Services at 801-444-2200 or John Fox, Humane Society Utah chief investigator at 801-261-2919 ext. 210. Tip-offs can remain anonymous.

To make a donation click here.

clearfield cat torture
Six-year-old Sage had been missing for four days when he crawled back to his family home on 8 March with horrific injuries Facebook / China Rose