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The Twisted Reasons People Poison Pets

Journalist Deborah Blum found a few culprits that cropped up again and again

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Deborah Blum, a journalist who specializes in poisons, first picked up on the disturbing frequency of pet poisonings after setting up a Google alert on poisoning events and accumulating more 300 news stories on poisoned pets over the course of one year. Then, she began receiving unsolicited emails from pet owners who had lost animals. When she began looking into it, she also stumbled upon forums where pet haters who wanted to rid themselves of their neighbor’s pesky dog or cat would post messages such as:

I want to know the best way to kill next door neighbors’ cat, with out them suspecting anything. Its her closest pet and I need it to be gone. It kills bird and it comes in my back yard. Is there any way to poision it or dart it?

Last year when Blum wrote a piece for PLoS Blogs on the topic, the comment section turned into a bragging forum on the best ways to kill a messy cat or poison a barking dog.

So why do people chose to harm others’ pets? From the hundreds of news stories, comments and emails Blum has combed through, she explains on Wired, she found a few culprits that cropped up again and again:

  • Common crime. For example, a California burglar recently poisoned two dogs in order to break into a house.
  • Neighbors or people we know. Estranged spouses or exes may kill an animal as a form of revenge upon their former flame. Others do it to terrorize or send a threatening message to enemies. (Think of the horse head scene from The Godfather.) Neighbors often poison pets in order to quiet a noisy dog or stop a cat from digging up the rose garden or stalking the birds.
  • Random cruelty. Still others chose to poison pets for the heck of it, Blum writes, leaving poison-laced treats in public parks.

As Women in Crime Ink writes, the link between animal cruelty and crime is well documented in scientific literature. Killing a noisy dog or an irksome cat is only a step or two removed from carrying out similar violence upon fellow humans. So there is ample reason for anyone who suspects their pet was poisoned to feel nervous.

More from Smithsonian.com:

We Spent $52 Billion on Our Pets Last Year 
Pet Store Refuses to Sell Impulse-Buy Puppies Before Christmas 

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