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Cat killings prompt probe

<p>A special task force has been launched to investigate a string of cat mutilations around the city — and it’s so serious officials are warning the public to keep their cats indoors or on a tight leash.</p>

Task force formed to investigate rash of animal mutilations



Marc Bence/For Metro Edmonton


J. Olson talks to the media yesterday about a new task force created to investigate the increased number of cat killings.





A special task force has been launched to investigate a string of cat mutilations around the city — and it’s so serious officials are warning the public to keep their cats indoors or on a tight leash.





More than a dozen cases have been reported to the Edmonton Humane Society over the past two years, while several dead cats have recently been found in nearby St. Albert.





“The human-animal violence link is well-documented,” said humane society officer J. Olson. “We know there is a progression from animals to humans, so we want to make sure that we’ve done everything possible to stop or prohibit any person from moving on to humans.”





Details on the string of deaths aren’t being released to the public since the criminal investigation has just begun, she said, but the group is asking residents to keep a close watch on their cats by keeping them indoors.





“We’re trying to be proactive in nature,” she added. “We’re trying to stop any future attacks, so definitely be alert.”





The joint task force incorporates six different groups, including members of the RCMP, city police, bylaw officers and the humane society. The group will be studying similarities between known cases, looking for patterns and possible suspects.





Edmonton police Sgt. Duane Hunter said they currently have no suspects, but are comparing information from reported missing pets with dead animals that have recently been found.





“We’re always asking for the public’s help and we would like them to report every instance they think is a suspicious cat death,” he said. “Bring it to our attention, as well as the humane society’s attention.”





Police will be the investigative arm of the group, he said, but animal control officers also have the power to lay criminal charges in animal cruelty cases.





“As a crime, we take this serious,” he said. “We want to investigate it to the fullest capacity.”





The Edmonton Humane Society reported five cat mutilations in one west end neighbourhood last summer and officials believe this year’s cases have similarities to those incidents.





Anyone with information related to the string of cat mutilations is asked to contact the city’s animal protection department at 491-3517.


 
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