Manual strangulation of a stray cat

Linking pathologic findings with the crime

  • Wei-Hsiang Huang, DVM PhD Graduate Institute of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei 10617, Taiwan, Republic of China (ROC); National Taiwan University Veterinary Hospital, No.153, Sec. 3, Keelung Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 106, Taiwan, ROC https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0098-0278
  • Chien-Chun Kuo, DVM Graduate Institute of Veterinary Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei 10617, Taiwan, ROC
  • Hsuan-Yun Hu, MS Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ministry of Justice, Republic of China
  • Chih-Hsin Pan, MD Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ministry of Justice, Republic of China
  • Albert Taiching Liao, DVM PHD Graduate Institute of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University; Graduate Institute of Veterinary Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University
  • Chen-Hsuan Liu, DVM PhD Graduate Institute of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University
Keywords: veterinary forensic pathology, strangulation, asphyxiation, animal cruelty, domestic cat

Abstract

Veterinary forensic pathology plays a crucial role in animal death investigations. Recent years have seen increased attention given to this field in Taiwan. Here we report a grave crime that aroused public indignation in Taiwan, when in December 2015, a missing free-roaming cat was allegedly strangled by a suspect, according to witnesses. Surveillance video footage of the cruel incident surfaced that showed the cat, without visible signs of struggle, strangled by both hands of the suspect and kicked in the abdomen’s left side. The body was stored in a travel bag when found in the suspect’s motorcycle trunk three days after the cat had been missing. The radiographs revealed a suspected luxation of cervical vertebrae 6 and 7 (C6–C7). At forensic necropsy and histopathology, neck compression with subcutaneous hemorrhage at the left submandibular area, bruising of the neck, tears in the wall of the left external jugular vein, and pulmonary lesions were identified, all consistent with asphyxiation. Hemorrhages of the epidural space of the C7 vertebra, the spinal nerve at the level of C7, and surrounding soft tissues were noted. The pathological findings were in line with the suspect’s confession, the witnesses’ statements, and the video footage. The process and outcome of this case reflected society’s growing awareness of animal welfare and the increased attention that the authorities are giving crimes against animals in Taiwan, and the link between pathologic findings and the crime.

Published
2020-10-12
Section
Pathology