Owner's anguish after cat poisoned in Ballycastle
A photographer whose cat died after being poisoned has said he believes there are sick individuals roaming the north coast carrying out a vendetta against pets.
Kevin McAuley, who runs a freelance photography agency in Ballycastle, Co Antrim, arrived home on Friday to find his beloved pet O'Malley unwell.
He recalled finding the cat in his basket, clearly struggling to breathe.
"He tried to get up but had lost the power of this legs," Mr McAuley said.
"I phoned the vet and he was just closing up for the night but he said to bring him in and he would check him out. But he died in the car on the way down the road.
"The vet took one look at him - his tongue was blue and swollen - and said it had to be poisoning."
The vet told Mr McAuley there had been a spate of cases of poisoning recently, and not just in Ballycastle. He said he had heard of cases where ham had been left laced with a deadly substance but wrapped in such a way to encourage an animal to eat it.
After posting online about O'Malley's death, scores of people were in contact to say their pets had also been poisoned.
"It appears to be something around the entire north coast," Mr McAuley added. "I have heard from people from Portstewart who have had their pets harmed.
"It's not targeted because it is so widespread. There are clearly some people who get some sort of pleasure from this.
"It's a painful death too, it is very cruel.
"A child could have picked it up and eaten it... it doesn't bear thinking about."
Mr McAuley said O Malley was a very friendly cat and would have approached anyone who tried to entice it toward them. Not yet two years old, the cat often sat alongside Kevin at home.
The photographer recently suffered a debilitating infection and said his pet had been a comfort to him throughout his recuperation.
"It's heartbreaking... it's losing a member of the family," he added. "Police need to step up and crack down on this. Because if someone can do it to an animal they must be involved in other crimes... what could they do to a person if they do that to an animal? They are an insult to the human race. I'm at a loss for words."