Four cats were reported dead in Palmetto Bay last week within blocks of each other, and one resident is warning of a cat-killing psychopath. Police say a loose dog is a much more likely story.
The incidents call to mind a high-profile 2009 case, in which police charged a South Dade teen with killing and mutilating 19 cats in Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay. The state’s case fell apart after defense experts showed that the cats were killed by a dog or other animal. Prosecutors dropped the charges.
Here again, police say the cats were likely killed by one or more dogs.
“We’re not excluding that something else could have killed the cats, but the wounds right now appear to be indicative of that caused by dogs or other larger animals,” said village police commander Gregory Truitt. Necropsies – animal autopsies – will be considered if more animals show up with similar injuries, he added.
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One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, vehemently disagrees.
“Somebody tortured our cat, somebody is sick. Somebody has something wrong with them,” she said Monday.
Her cat was killed last Tuesday night, and she describes a grisly scene:
“There was no bite marks, there was no blood. In the middle of her back, there’s a hole through her back, and her spine was cut in half. And she was laid out on the front lawn, to look like she was asleep.”
But Truitt says that’s not so unusual: Cats don’t usually bleed out much when they’re bitten by dogs, and a broken spine could result from being shaken around in a dog’s mouth.
As for the hypothesis – which got traction in television reports of the killings – that somebody attacked the cats with a bow and arrow, Truitt that says that just comes from an offhand comment made by an officer to the resident that the puncture wounds “could” have been made by a projectile.
But it’s much more likely a dog was to blame, Truitt said.
“It’s not very difficult for a dog of medium size to grab a cat in the middle and put puncture holes in the top and the bottom. And that’s what it’s more indicative of as we look at it,” he said.
As for the other cats reported dead, he said, there’s no evidence to suggest anything other than dog attacks. One cat, found Friday, only had a puncture wound and a tear on one side, and another cat, killed Tuesday or Wednesday, was clearly mauled by a dog, with fur scattered around the scene, Truitt said.
The fourth cat was buried by its owners and only reported to police later, when others began reporting their cats, and so was never examined.