Belfast Telegraph

Police probe poisoning letter sent to cat owners as woman fears missing pet is a victim

By Rebecca Black

An east Belfast woman has spoken of her devastation after receiving a sinister letter informing her that her cat had been intentionally poisoned.

Anne Caughey's five-year-old ginger tom Henry went missing at the end of January.

She launched a frantic bid to find him, distributing leaflets and posters with his photograph on them.

Initially, she thought he might have been knocked down by a car. Then she received a sinister letter telling her Henry had been poisoned.

A letter warning that the "cat problem" in Dundonald was going to be "sorted" was delivered to Ms Caughey and three of her neighbours who have cats.

The letter writer claimed to have been "employed" by local residents because cats "roam free, fouling other people's gardens, spreading disease", before going on to detail a plan to put down "bait". They described in graphic detail how it would poison the cat and kill it.

It concluded by warning recipients to ensure their cats did not leave their house or garden.

The author also said they would be in the area in a van if anyone had any questions.

Ms Caughey said the letter she received also included a post script telling her "FYI your cat took the bait".

"I was devastated," she said.

"It had been terrible to think he had been knocked down by a car and maybe not able to get home again. But to think someone had hurt him deliberately, I just can't even put into words how that made me feel."

None of the other three cats has gone missing so far.

East Belfast MP Naomi Long described the letter as "disturbing" and said she is seeking a meeting with police.

"I have dealt with a number of constituents who have reported missing cats and to think they may have fallen prey to someone poisoning them is horrific," she said.

"These are innocent animals and someone's pet. To treat them as vermin and of no consequence is appalling and illegal."

She added: "I recently held a major public meeting regarding a number of animal welfare issues and one which was raised consistently throughout was the need for better monitoring of cats as pets, as they have less protection in law than dogs, despite being popular and loved companion animals," she said.

"I have sought a meeting with the police to get an update on their investigation and would ask anyone with information to come forward to prevent any further incidents."

PSNI Inspector Tommy Fairfield said the matter was being investigated.

"Police responded to calls from two residents in the Rockmount area who received letters purporting to be from a pest control company. These letters have been seized and inquiries continue," he said.

"At this stage local police are not aware that any cats have been killed.

"One cat has gone missing, however there is nothing to suggest the animal was purposefully harmed," he added.

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