HIGHLAND SPRINGS, VA (WWBT) - Some Henrico residents believe neighbors may be intentionally trying to hurt their pets who roam the outdoors.
A Highland Springs woman posted on Facebook about cats and dogs coming home sick or even dying in the N. Mapleleaf Avenue area off of Nine Mile Road.
Since that post, dozens of people have chimed in.
“When we started seeing a similarity of all these symptoms between different animals that’s when we started to wonder if something more may be at play,” said Lynne Andrews Pemberton, of Highland Springs.
In the post, Pemberton asked about any pets vomiting more than usual or that have gone missing only to show up dead.
"I was expecting to hear from one or two other people on the street,” Pemberton said. “The fact that it spread to a three to four block radius around our area was appalling and surprising to me."
Pemberton believes someone in the neighborhood may be putting out bait bowls, which have pet food in them laced with some kind of poison.
"Your small dog or cat may be vomiting, dryness around the eyes, mouth, nose, and possible respiratory issues," Pemberton said.
Pemberton said she contact Henrico Animal Control about these concerns, but Lieutenant Shawn Sears said they don’t have any reports of that nature.
Sears said the neighborhood off Nine Mile Road is known for its high number of feral cats.
“It’s not uncommon for people leave food out for them but it does create problems, especially for homeowners who don’t want animals on their property,” he said.
Ruth Peach is just one resident who takes care of some of the feral cats. While some of them do stay indoors with her, there is one that’s gone missing; another cat, Robin, returned home recently after he was missing for more than a week.
But Peach thinks something much darker is happening in the neighborhood; last month her kitten was found dead.
"It had a broken neck,” Peach said. “It was an ulterior motive, especially with the way the cat was left lying on the porch."
She's not sure who could have done this, and the reports of pets getting sick is only adding to her concerns.
"It just doesn't feel safe for our pets,” she said. “Even though Robin is outside right now, I'll probably be taking him back in with me. I don't even feel like leaving my outdoors cats outside anymore. I've been keeping my pets indoors."
Sears said they do have someone near N. Mapleleaf Avenue who is legally trapping cats in order to deal with the roaming population.
The agency has a program that allows residents to trap animals and have officers come pick them up to bring them to a shelter.
Sears urges anyone with information about suspicious behavior or animal issues in your neighborhood to contact the agency at 804-501-5000.