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article imageAnimal rights groups offer over $23,000 reward in NY cat killings Special

By Megan Hamilton     May 2, 2014 in Crime
Yonkers - PETA, ASPCA and several other animal rights organizations are offering a reward of more than $23,000 to find the person who killed 25 cats and hung their bodies from a tree in a Yonkers Neighborhood.
"PETA is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case," says Kristin Simon, a Senior Cruelty caseworker for PETA. "Rewards are also being offered by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, the Defense of Animals Fund, and Alley Cat Allies."
The Defense of Animals Fund is offering $2500, while Alley Cat Allies is offering $750. Each of the other organizations is offering $5,000.
The grisly scene was discovered by two sanitation workers who were clearing debris late last week in a wooded area of Overlook Terrace. They found more than two dozen plastic bags suspended from trees in a tangle of vines with beer bottles scattered all over the ground. They called the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, according to the New York Times.
When Ernest Lungaro, the Westchester SPCA's director of humane law enforcement arrived, he was horrified.
"We have never been confronted by a scene like this," he told the Times.
Lungaro notified the police immediately and they are conducting a joint effort to find the killer.
Autopsies performed on three of the cats showed that they had died from blunt force trauma to the head and authorities believe that all of the cats died this way. Police report that killing a cat in a "depraved and sadistic manner" is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
It appeared that some of the cats had been dead at least a year, while others had only been dead for about three days, according to CBS.
Lungaro told CBS that he'd seen cases in the past where cats had been poisoned, but he'd never seen cases where cats had been killed so violently.
"Pretty disturbing, smashing their heads in and displaying them like that," he said.
"Animal abusers are cowards who take out their issues on the most defenseless beings available to them," Simon said. "People who abuse animals rarely do so only once and almost never stop there — the link between cruelty to animals and violent acts toward humans is well documented. Whoever did this poses a grave danger to the community and needs to be stopped."
A baseball bat, two shovels and a metal pipe were found nearby, but investigators weren't sure whether those items had been used in the killings, Lungaro told the Huffington Post.
Neighbors had put up feeding stations for the many feral cats that live in the area and there's been some tension regarding this, Lungaro told the Post. He noted that the dead cats may have been placed there to taunt those who had been feeding them. However, authorities have yet to establish whether the kitties were feral. There hasn't been a string of missing pets, although owners are now starting to call to report their pets are lost.
"This incident illustrates why PETA so strongly believes that cats are safe only indoors," Simon noted. "We encourage people never to let their cats roam freely outdoors and that if they see a cat outdoors, they do everything that they can to get the animal to safety."
It's the only way to keep a cat safe, she said.
"Animals left outdoors unattended are at risk from disease, attacks by other animals or cruel people, traffic, and myriad other dangers." Cats can be quite healthy, happy and safe indoors, she said. "Cat guardians who want their animals to get a little fresh air can walk their cats on a leash or in a stroller or purchase or build an outdoor cat playroom."
Some people are being questioned, Lungaro said. He declined to say whether or not there was a suspect.
More about Animal rights, Peta, Alley cat allies, defense of animals fund, Aspca
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