Shavings and marks consistent with a professional euthanization have police thinking that an animal hospital or veterinarians office could be involved with the dumping of 35 cats and dogs and an exotic lizard on the Hutchinson River Parkway in Harrison.
Police say necropsies of some of the animals indicate a professional had euthanized the animals before they were dumped near an entrance ramp to the parkway.
"It appears that—at least the ones that we had the necropsies done—that those animals were euthanized in an appropriate manner," said Captain Thomas Gleason of the Westchester County Police. "That's kind of what we are thinking right now, that they were euthanized in an appropriate manner but then, unfortunately, the disposal process went awry."
Since the story broke Thursday afternoon police say they have received several tips from pet owners in the area, most recently someone who had brought a pet in for euthanization.
Police are also hopeful that a shoebox found containing one of the dead cats could lead them to the pet's owner. Gleason said they are using the bar code from the Fitzwell shoebox to track down where the shoes were purchased. Fitzwell shoes are only sold in one or two shoes in the area and police are hoping the box provides a link in the case.
"Hopefully the owner of (the shoebox) is the owner of that animal, where the cat passed away and they brought it in for disposal," Gleason said.
The dead animals were discovered by transportation maintenance officials at about 9:15 a.m on the northbound entrance to the parkway from Westchester Avenue's westbound lane. Police said today they found a total of 25 garbage bags containing 35 bodies, mostly dogs and cats. The body of a rare South American Tegu lizard was also found.
It is likely the animals were dumped at different times, as the remains had various levels of decomposition. The placement of the bags also varied, leaving police to believe whoever dumped the animals did so on several different occasions.
"It could have been anywhere from up to a year to today," said Sergeant Edward Reich of the Westchester County General Investigations Unit. "Some had been in that location for a long time because they already had over brush."
Each of the bags was found only a few feet from the ramp in an 80-foot area.
Police have treated the area as a crime scene. Gleason said although police are early in their investigation, someone caught dumping animals improperly would face criminal charges. Additional charges could be added if whoever dumped the animals accepted money to dispose of the pets.
Westchester County Police are investigating the incident along with the SPCA. Anyone with any information about the incident is urged to call 1-800-898-8477 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gleason said the unusual case is unlike any he can remember in Westchester County.
"From time to time you will come across an animal or two," he said. "But never something like this."