More than 250 cats have been found killed and mutilated across the UK, leaving owners concerned that a serial cat killer has been stalking their pets.
Many of the cats had been dismembered, with their deaths described as "gruesome" by animal welfare workers. In Northampton two owners found the dismembered bodies of their cats left on their doorstep.
Originally foxes were thought to be behind the killings, but London-based animal rights charity Snarl has revealed 50 foxes have been found mutilated in the same way, and there was evidence linking the deaths of five rabbits and two swans to the killings.
A new forensic lab in Surry has been tasked with examining the corpses of some to the dead animals to find evidence.
Jo Millington, from the University of Surrey, told the BBC: "A big part of what we are doing is to be certain the animals have been subjected to human intervention."
Her colleague, Dr Alex Stoll, said there were concerns that if a human was committing violence towards animals, there was a high chance of further violence toward humans.
"It is becoming increasingly well-documented that animal cruelty can be used as a component part of domestic violence," he told the BBC.
"There is a growing body of evidence to indicate that people who harm animals are more likely to abuse humans."
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