Two cat abuse deaths confirmed

Two cat abuse deaths confirmed
Alleged cat abuser Lee Wai Leong leaving the State Courts on Jan 19, 2016.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

About two-thirds of the 26 cat deaths that occurred in Yishun since last September remain open cases as the authorities grapple with the cause.

Initial probes have shown that nine in 10 of the cats found dead in the neighbourhood was not a result of animal cruelty, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) told reporters yesterday.

Only two of the cats were and two men had been caught.

Last month, Lee Wai Leong, 40, was charged in court with animal cruelty, accused of throwing a cat from the 13th storey of Block 115B, Yishun Ring Road, on Oct 30. He was granted bail of $10,000 on Jan 19.

A second man, aged 51, was arrested last Saturday for alleged cat abuse. He is believed to be from the household that owned one of the dead cats. 

AVA said that post-mortems showed that seven other cats had died from "non-abuse" circumstances: Three were victims of road accidents, three had fallen from height and one had died from natural causes.

Dr Geetha Nellinathan of The Cat Clinic said natural causes that would kill a cat in the open include heart attack and sudden respiratory failure from asthma or lower airway disease.

"And, in males, a blocked bladder," she said. "This can cause the kidneys to shut down and the cat loses electrolytes in the body. If not found and treated, it would take just two to three days before the cat dies,"

In the latest case of a black-and-white cat found dead on a grass patch at the foot of Block 162, Yishun Street 11, on Wednesday, it was a result of a fall from height.

The autopsy performed on the remaining 19 cats showed evidence of external traumatic incident, which refers to death from blunt force.

"This could be due to being hit by a car, hit by a heavy object or fall from height. But the post-mortem showed insufficient evidence of abuse," said Director of Animal Management Department at AVA Alvin Goh.

But he said that AVA is not writing them off and will continue to work with the police to investigate.

INVESTIGATIONS

Dr Teo Xuan Hui, a vet with AVA's Animal Laboratory Department, said it takes about five weeks to conduct forensic investigations on a cat carcass before the cause of death can be ascertained.

When The New Paper asked if the signs of blunt force trauma include cuts, bruising, and fractures in the skull and spine, Dr Teo said: "All of the above."

He said that the post-mortems found no evidence of poisoning, contrary to claims by community groups.

AVA said it received 91 reports of alleged cat cruelty islandwide last year.

Superintendent Ho Yenn Dar, SPF's assistant director of the public affairs department, said that without eyewitnesses or conclusive proof, it is difficult to prove that the deaths were caused by abuse.

AVA and the police will, however, continue their investigations.

AVA urges members of the public with information, photographs, video and closed-circuit TV footage about the cases to contact its hotline at 1800-476-1600.

This could be due to being hit by a car, hit by a heavy object or fall from height. But the postmortem showed insufficient evidence of abuse.


This article was first published on Jan 30, 2016.
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