EDINBURG — Despite reports that a serial cat sodomizer was on the prowl in Edinburg this week, a veterinarian who examined one of the alleged victims says there’s no indication that the cat was abused at all and police say the department has only received one report of abuse.
Reports of a critically ill cat being rescued after it was supposedly shot and sodomized began circulating widely after Murphys Safe Haven, a local rescue organization for critically injured cats, posted about a rescue cat named Kismet on Sunday.
Murphys adopted the cat from Palm Valley Animal Society. Dr. Joseph Hatfield, the veterinarian who examined the cat Sunday, said based on his examination those abuse claims are unfounded.
“We did not see anything about any kind of shotgun pellets in it or sodomization,” he said. “There’s really nothing to substantiate or support either one of those; in fact, all the physical indications are basically opposed to those two things. For sure it did not get shot, because somebody would have had to remove the pellets in that area — and they did not. And it did not get sodomized either, according to my physical exam.”
In fact, Hatfield said there’s no indication Kismet was abused at all.
“Basically when the cat came in it looked like a malnourished, stray cat. That’s what it looked like,” he said. “Malnourished, no medical attention. I mean, it has a lot of hair loss, but there was no bruising, no abnormal number of fractured teeth, no bloody gums. Its testicles were not abused in any way, which sometimes happens in some of these weird cases. So for all intents and purposes, there was no indication of animal abuse, or really neglect. I mean, it was a stray animal.”
A veterinarian at the Fayette County Veterinary Clinic in La Grange, Hatfield said the cat was suffering from ulcerative injuries on its chest, which are often caused by chronic skin infections. He said it was slowly improving Friday, and that he understood it was being transferred to the Mission Veterinary Hospital.
Hatfield was surprised by the amount of attention the report of abuse received.
“I work with a lot of rescues, do a lot of this stuff, and this is a first for me — having to go through all of these hoops,” he said.
Audrey Wulf, 14, is the rescuer who operates Murphys. She says she still believes Kismet was shot and sodomized, noting its enlarged anus. She thinks he may have recovered before he was examined.
“We were honestly just shocked by the condition he was in,” she said. “He was just in such bad condition, much more than we had previously thought.”
Wulf says she reported that abuse to Edinburg police. A spokesperson for police confirmed in a statement that the department received information about possible animal abuse involving a stray cat earlier this week.
“Detectives are actively following up on leads,” the statement read. “At this time, limited information is being released due to the ongoing investigation.”
The original post about Kismet generated similar stories of male cats being abused and sodomized — even stories about them being dismembered and shot to death.
According to Edinburg police, none of those incidents have been reported. The statement does urge anyone with information related to the alleged animal abuse to contact the department.
“The Edinburg Police Department takes any and all allegations of neglect, abuse, and cruelty to animals very seriously and strongly urges anyone with information on this incident to contact us at (956) 289-7700,” the statement said.
Whether or not Kismet actually sustained any abuse, the bedraggled cat’s story will likely have a happy ending. Murphys Safe Haven’s healthy social media following means Kismet’s picture has circulated around the world and offers to adopt him have been pouring in.
“We’ve already had hundreds of people interested. I’m like, ‘Guys, he’s not available yet,” Wulf said. “I mean, people from Germany, Africa. Everywhere.”
Donna Casamento, the executive director of Palm Valley Animal Society, says animal abuse is a problem in the Rio Grande Valley. She says she has heard several reports of cat abuse in the last few weeks and that it’s not uncommon to find dogs with pellets buried under their skin.
“It is just way too common, and as much as it pains me to say it, it isn’t the first time we’ve heard of this and it probably won’t be the last,” she said.
When abused animals come into PVAS, Casamento says the shelter does its best to rehabilitate them.
“We’re not an investigative arm, we don’t have the authority to do that,” she said. “So we take them in and give them the best medical care we can and see if we can get rescue groups like Audrey and her group to pull them and go with it. So thankfully she did, and this kitty, the one that she has, is getting as much care as she can possibly give it.”