DUNNELLON, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man fatally poisoned at least three cats and one dog in his neighborhood, police said.
The 36-year-old man was arrested Wednesday following a monthlong investigation, a Marion County Sheriff's Office news release said. He faces four counts of aggravated animal cruelty.
Deputies first responded to the Dunnellon neighborhood early last month after a resident reported that their cat had possibly been poisoned, officials said. The feline had been sick and seizing, prompting its owners to take the animal to a veterinarian. The cat eventually died, and the owner told deputies their dog had died following similar symptoms in October. During the investigation, a neighbor told deputies that five of their cats had also died experiencing similar symptoms.
The sheriff's office contacted the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine for help, officials said. The school is located in Gainesville, which is about 45 miles north of Dunnellon. After exhuming several pets, a doctor at the school determined that three cats and one dog had all died from antifreeze poisoning.
A neighbor told deputies about a man in the area who had claimed he was poisoning cats to prevent them from killing his chickens, official said. When deputies executed a search warrant at the man's home, they reported finding three containers of antifreeze, multiple cans of tuna and fish-flavored rat poison.