Animal officials believe somebody is preying on the stray cats of Oakland.
In the last five weeks, Oakland Animal Services says four felines have been shot with pellet guns. One of the cats had to be euthanized. Another cat’s leg had to be amputated because it was so badly infected.
All of the cats are male and were found in the lower Dimond District of Oakland. They were all found between a two-mile radius by good Samaritans who brought them into the animal service.
“We want to find out who is doing this,” Oakland Animal Services director Rebecca Katz tells PEOPLE. “We believe someone or several people are out there doing this.”
She adds, “It looks like they are hunting or targeting them. So far there are four cats but unfortunately I think there could be more that we are not aware of.”
Katz cites research showing a “correlation between violence against animals and people.”
“They know that there is a relationship between violence against animals and other violent acts,” she says. “There is plenty of evidence of people who start with animals and then escalate.”
Katz says the first injured cat, named Frankie, was brought into their shelter five weeks ago. Two weeks later, another cat, a Siamese named Percy, was brought in with a pellet in his leg, which subsequently had to be amputated. The third injured cat had a pellet lodged in its spine and had to be euthanized.
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Katz says another cat, named Morgan, was shot last Saturday. Morgan is expected to make a full recovery.
Since the agency released information about the shootings, Katz says they have received an additional call about an injured cat.
“I know people find wild animals and stray cats as nuisances at times but shooting them is not a solution,” she says. “It is inhumane. There are other ways to resolve this that doesn’t involve violence. We can trap and remove cats and wildlife.”
Friends of Oakland Animal Services has offered a $10,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects.
Anyone with information about the cat shootings is asked to contact Oakland Animal Services at 510-535-4895. Anonymous tips also will be accepted.