Appalled by reports that a kitten was killed in a washing machine over the weekend, the Ottawa Humane Society called the death the latest in a "disturbing trend" it has been tracking locally.

"There’s an increase in animal-cruelty cases in Ottawa. It’s extremely concerning to us, especially given the fact that current animal laws provide very little protection for animals and there is insufficient deterrent for people who commit these atrocious acts," said Sharon Miko, director of operations for the Ottawa Humane Society.


"A case like this is extremely disturbing," she said.

Ottawa Police Constable Isabelle Lemieux said yesterday police are investigating an animal-cruelty incident after attending a call at a west-end residence on Sunday. Because the incident remains under investigation, police would not provide further details.

While police will do the initial investigation, such cases are usually handed to the humane society for followup and to determine whether charges would be laid.

Growing awareness of animal abuse, resulting in more people reporting it, could account for a recent increase in animal-cruelty cases, Miko said. But it could also indicate more serious crimes being committed.

The OHS has been involved in several significant animal-cruelty cases over the past year, said Miko, including last September when a 31-year-old Ottawa woman and her father were charged with animal cruelty after a five-week-old kitten was tossed from a moving vehicle.

Other incidents have included a North Gower farmer who was charged after beating a pregnant cat to death with a tire iron in June, and the February 2007 discovery of a boxer-type dog — tied by its leash to a banister in an underground parking garage — that likely died from starvation or dehydration.

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