July 2, 2021
The Cat Killer That Never Was
On a Sunday in mid-June, I received a call at home from OHS staff. The question: Would we pay to necropsy the cats found dead in Nepean? You see, earlier in the day, Ottawa Police Service had asked us if we had a veterinarian on staff who could perform the grim task (we don’t). OPS had also reached out for support to the provincial ministry responsible for investigating animal cruelty. Because this was a criminal investigation, the Ministry would not cover any costs or otherwise assist. The police themselves were reluctant to pay for any necropsies.
It seemed if we were to get to the truth of what was happening to Ottawa’s cats, the OHS was going to have to pay for it. Neither Ottawa Police Service (budget: $376,400,000) nor the Ministry of the Solicitor General (budget: $2,965,069,987) were going to pay. A local charity would have to foot the bill. I agreed that the OHS would cover the cost of several necropsies to determine the cause of death to give ourselves and our community peace of mind and to prevent further deaths, adding to the reward for information we had already posted.
OPS believed someone was torturing and killing the cats and we had to take this very seriously. Not only were we deeply concerned about Ottawa’s cats, we were alarmed about the connection between violence against animals and violence against people: torturing and killing cats can be a warning of terrible violence to come.
In the end, the police paid for a necropsy on one of the deceased cats to be performed at the University of Guelph Animal Health Laboratory. The necropsy determined that the cause of death was a predatory attack, most likely by a coyote. The findings pointed to a similar fate for the other cats.
So, what did we learn from all this? First, cats are not safe outdoors. Predators are out there and cats need to be kept safely indoors. Second, police are not sufficiently trained to investigate animal cruelty and neglect. Third, the provincial ministry charged with investigations isn’t doing its job.
And fourth? The provincial system for protecting animals isn’t working.
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