Somerset Police aren’t ready to proclaim that one Somerset neighborhood is undergoing a rash of animal deaths just yet, but is looking into claims of potential pet poisonings.
Lt. Shannon Smith of the Somerset Police Department (SPD) responded Thursday to a story on a Lexington television news station in which a Somerset woman claimed her cat had been apparently poisoned.
Smith said that the woman who contacted police Tuesday — Angie Girdler of Sagasser Street — had a cat which was suffering some type of seizure when she arrived home.
“One of our officers responded to a complaint that a cat had been poisoned on Sagasser Street,” said Smith. “When he arrived, (Girdler) was obviously in shock over what she had discovered had happened to her cat, and subsequently almost immediately went to the vet to get some treatment for that.”
Girdler — described as a “self-proclaimed ‘cat lady’” — told WLEX TV News on Wednesday that her cat Smokey Tom had been poisoned and was euthanized by Dr. Bruce Burkett, who was quoted as saying that “99.9 percent of the time ... (pet deaths are) due to poisoning, which is antifreeze.”
The news station reported that this was one of “at least 10 cats to be poisoned” in that area lately. Smith, however, reported lower figures.
“What the officer on the scene was able to determine was that a couple of the cats over a period of time had been suspected to be poisoned,” said Smith, “and also a neighbor walked up and said that he had a couple of cats poisoned. That’s pretty much the basis of what we’re working on right now.”
Smith added that “it’s not been officially reported to us that there’s been a mass number of cats or other animals affected by what’s going on,” but “we’re certainly going to look into it. ... Obviously, our goal is to stop what’s going on and bring charges if necessary against the people who are responsible.”
As such, there are no charges yet — Smith said that felony charges of cruelty to animals is what a potential suspect could face — and only one of the two people who have had pet deaths has actually called 911 to report anything amiss, said Smith.
“The only conclusion that we know of about poisoning ... is what we have personally seen on the news,” said Smith. “We have not received anything from the victims to any conclusive results nor any forensic evidence as any type.
However, “there’s not a suspicion or allegation that these claims are made up,” he added, noting that he understands what a priority the case is to the victims involved.
“Once (Girdler) gets in contact (again with the investigating officer) and passes on some more details, we’ll combine that with what little we know so far and proceed forward and get to the bottom of it.”