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Cat killer at large on Capitol Hill

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Photo by Izabel Diaz / @handsomekingoliver
Photo by Izabel Diaz / @handsomekingoliver

The Capitol Hill neighborhood has been shaken by the news that a possible serial killer of cats is on the loose in the area. Signs began popping up around the neighborhood on May 31, offering up a $2,000 reward for any tips that could lead to the arrest of the alleged killer.

"Some loser with a BB gun is shooting cats in the area around 18th and 19th!" the flyers read. The creator of the flyer asks anyone with information to submit anonymous tips to [email protected].

The SGN reached out to that email address for more information but has yet to hear back.

Animal abuse is now considered a crime in every state, although penalties vary. According to Washington law, intentionally inflicting substantial pain on, causing physical injury to, or killing an animal by a means causing undue suffering, or forcing a minor to inflict unnecessary pain, injury, or death on an animal, is considered animal cruelty and thus illegal. Depending on the severity of the crime, an offender can face steep fines and even jail time.

Unfortunately, BB gun—related cat deaths are pretty common, and strays are the usual targets.

Psychological studies have also found that people who abuse animals or derive pleasure from watching them suffer are more likely to commit future crimes against humans, such as sexual and physical abuse. Research from the FBI has also found that most serial killers, school shooters, and mass murderers started by killing and torturing animals.

Advice for cat owners
We reached out to the Animal Control Department of the Seattle Animal Shelter to ask if they have received any reports related to the BB gun cat killer. They were unable to share that information with us but did direct us to their website, where they provide tips and advice for cat owners in Seattle.

If you are a cat owner worried about the latest threat facing your feline in Capitol Hill, experts advise always keeping your cat indoors unless you have access to an outdoor cat run, or can supervise all outdoor activity.

"The Seattle Animal Shelter believes that a healthy cat is an indoor cat. Indoor cats enjoy longer, safer, and healthier lives than those that are outside. If you love your cat, keep it indoors," the official statement from the SAS reads.

"Within the city, there is no leash law for cats. Because of this and many other factors, you can expect to see cats roaming in your neighborhood. Additionally, many free-roaming cats do not have a home. These are cats that were domestic pets or were born as feral cats."

The Seattle Animal Shelter also advises those who do choose to let their cats roam outdoors to make sure they are spayed and neutered, because the feral cat population is not healthy for Seattle's ecosystem and leads to an overflow of strays in the shelter.

"While these cats become part of the natural ecosystem, often reducing the rodent population in our neighborhoods, they can also harm native wildlife and songbirds," the SAS writes. "Please spay and neuter your cats, and consider keeping them indoors or confined with an outdoor enclosure."

To keep stray populations down, the SAS has partnered with several organizations, including the Best Friends Animal Society, Ally Cat Allies, and the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project to trap and tend to feral cats, then release them back to their habitats.

The shelter explains that TNR (trap, neuter, release) is "[a] technique in which community cats are humanely trapped, evaluated, spayed or neutered by a licensed veterinarian, ear-tipped to show they've been sterilized, vaccinated against rabies and distemper, and then returned to their original habitat."

All of these steps are important to ensure that cats are safe from all dangers they may face on the streets of Seattle: cars, coyotes, and now, a cat killer with a BB gun.