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Ed Yeates ReportingA growing number of experts in animal deaths are now saying a rash of cat mutilations in the Avenues, and in Sandy, may not be the work of a psycho, but rather a fox.
Since May of 2002, eleven cats have turned up dead. Investigators say all these cases are similar, in that it appears the cat was killed somewhere else and then dumped in the Avenues. But a growing number of veterinary pathologists have a different theory.
Veterinarians already know there are fox dens in these hills and the condition of the cat carcasses are not unlike what a fox might leave behind. Veterinary pathologist Dr. Lawrence McGill is not a newcomer to mutilation cases. He was one of several key experts who helped investigate the so-called alien cattle mutilations in the 70's. While he has yet to examine an actual cat carcass recovered from the Avenues, the evidence from photographs, he says, looks like the work of an animal, not a human.
Lawrence McGill, DVM, Ph.D., Veterinary Pathologist: "To me, I'm seeing cats or parts of cats left that show a predator getting a hold of these individuals and taking the parts they want and eating those parts."
Dr. McGill says a fox, for example, has extremely sharp teeth and can make precision cuts, which may appear ritualistic. Parts left in a yard or on the street may look like the work of a brutal, almost sadistic killer, when in fact, it's not.
McGill: "They find that they need to take something back to their den so they take the parts that they can carry easily; a half a cat is just about right for a fox. But when you do a half a cat you also take out the viscera, you take out the lungs, you take out the intestines and carry that along with you."
Temma Martin with Salt Lake County Animal Control says she's leaning more now towards the predator theory. Investigators have sent hair samples to an out of state lab for analysis.
It could be fox, perhaps a coyote. Foxes not only have dens above the Avenues but even under runways at the Salt Lake Airport. Salt Lake County Animal Control says if it turns out to be a predator, that's even more reason to keep your cats indoors. Coyotes and foxes are not psychos. You can't arrest them for what they do.