The recent rise in kitten mortality is thought to be related to a worker at an animal shelter in Weatherford, Texas, who is accused of abusing and killing kittens while working there.
According to authorities, Gabriel Caswell, 21, was detained last month after he was seen on surveillance footage killing kittens at the Weatherford Animal Shelter.
The City of Weatherford noted in a press statement that the arrest happened in the midst of an inquiry into an unusual rise in kitten mortality at the shelter since June. The deaths were initially thought to be disease-related, but examination of numerous specimens revealed no evidence of illness.
More HVAC systems were subsequently built, proper cleaning procedures were followed, the chemicals in all cleaning products were examined, new policies were formed, and every missing or deceased animal was meticulously monitored by staff.
On July 14, 2023, a shelter employee called the authorities after observing Caswell cruelly torturing a kitten to the point where it had little chance of surviving. Before the police arrived, staff members challenged Caswell, who then ran away.
Officers discovered Caswell had broken the law after watching the incident’s video. A warrant for Caswell’s arrest was obtained after detectives started their investigation.
Caswell was detained for animal abuse after a short period of time, but he was later let go.
On July 28, after reviewing further video, detectives secured a new arrest warrant for Caswell for animal cruelty. The next day, Caswell was taken into custody once more.
Still being done is the review of further videos for any additional potential events. Officials are unsure of how many animal fatalities Caswell may be liable for at this time.
“Our shelter staff and volunteers take great pride in the love and care provided to the animals that visit our shelter,” the city said in its press release. “For something like this to happen is unfathomable, and we are heartbroken by the harm caused. This case is still being investigated, and the Shelter is partnering with the Police Department as the City continues to seek justice for all of Caswell’s actions.”