Few cat lovers in the UK will fail to have heard of the so-called “Croydon Cat Killer,” who is/was more appropriately known as the UK Animal Killer, an unknown person or persons thought to be responsible for the death and dismemberment of over 400 animals over the course of several years – including wildlife and pet rabbits as well as domestic cats.
A Metropolitan Police operation named Operation Takahe was set up to investigate the pattern of killings, and collate information and evidence from such incidents in liaison with a large number of other police forces all across the UK too.
SNARL (South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty) – an animal rescue and welfare charity in London, headed up by Boudicca Rising and Tony Jenkins – also played a vital part in bringing the pattern of crimes to the police’s attention, lobbying for investigation into the crimes and potential killer, and in supporting and working with the police and pet owners on suspected incidents.
It is fair to say that Boudicca Rising and Tony Jenkins have played a hugely important role in highlighting the case, collating information, and working to identify victims and potential suspects. Working closely with the Operation Takahe team on the case, SNARL, Rising and Jenkins have become in many ways the public face of the operation, in what is undeniably a highly unusual arrangement with one clear goal: catching an animal serial killer.
Suspected victims of the UK Animal Killer continue to appear across the country up to the present day, and a huge number of lines of enquiry have been explored and exhausted and numerous suspects narrowed down and ruled out. However, the police recently made an announcement that came as a huge shock to animal lovers, people who have lost pets to the suspected killer, and the general public at large – that there is no evidence to suggest human involvement in the killings.
Rising and Jenkins of SNARL, however, have spoken out strongly against claims that the killer doesn’t exist, and have pledged to continue their investigations and support of victims’ families in the wake of the announcement that Operation Takahe will be disbanded.
So, has the UK Cat Killer been caught? No.
Does he/she actually exist, and do pet owners in the UK have anything to fear? We’ll attempt to answer these questions within this article. Read on to learn more.
The presence of a possible animal killer who has variously been known as the Croydon Cat Killer, M25 Cat Killer and UK Animal Killer (among other things) was first brought to the attention of police in Croydon (South London) back in 2015. This happened after a significant number of pet cats went missing over a period of time in the local area, some of which were found to have been mutilated post-mortem and in some cases, had body parts returned to the areas outside of their homes for their owners to find.
Since the police began collating incidences of this type and public awareness has spread, similar cases have been reported across a wide and diverse cross section of England, with over 400 animal killings/deaths attributed to the killer since this time, and many more potential deaths ruled out as unlikely to be connected.
Police investigations into the killings built up a picture indicating that the potential killer operates at night and in suburban areas, luring cats and wildlife with food before killing and potentially dismembering them, and in some cases, leaving severed body parts behind where their owners or the general public are likely to find them.
Since the time that the police first began to seriously consider the possibility of a human killer targeting pet cats and other animals, Rising and Jenkins of SNARL have been closely involved with the investigation. SNARL’s founders have dedicated a huge amount of their own time and money to investigating potential cases, building up a picture of the crimes, and helping to build up a suspect profile to assist with catching the killer.
Publicity surrounding the UK Cat Killer case has built up and maintained a high degree of momentum since 2015, with new cases and suspected cases being reported regularly and information and advances on the case well publicised across social media, SNARL’s own website, and the mainstream UK press.
However, the police announced on the 20th September 2018 that the case and operation itself is to be dropped, and that there is no evidence of human involvement in any of the killings, which the police now attributes to natural predation or scavenging by wildlife.
This announcement signals the disbanding of Operation Takahe and the closure of any new or ongoing investigations under the remit of Operation Takahe into killings that might fit within the parameters of the investigation.
This decision came as a huge shock to much of the general public and those who have followed the case over the last few years, and particularly, to the owners of animals whose pets were targeted by the potential killer.
Rising and Jenkins of SNARL have also spoken out against the decision and pledged to continue their work.
The official statement from SNARL in the wake of the police’s own announcement states that they will continue to investigate killings and refute claims that the previous killings were natural or animal-related, and have outlined their reasons for this approach.
Evidence laid out by Rising and Jenkins about the nature of their findings whilst investigating the case, the method of the potential killer’s operations, and the reasons why SNARL maintains a viewpoint that the killings that have been ruled into the investigation cannot be attributed to predation/scavenging also make for very convincing reading.
Whether or not there really is or ever was a person or persons deliberately killing and mutilating pet cats and other animals is of course the crux of the matter, and this is something that every pet owner needs to consider for themselves on an individual basis.
What cannot be disputed is that over 400 pet cats, rabbits, and wildlife have been killed and mutilated with no firm resolution on the cause reached over the last few years, and the police’s announcement is not going to stop this from happening.
Insights and background provided by SNARL into their reasons for continuing to work the case and disagreement with the police’s new official viewpoint of natural predation and scavenging help to support the theory that pet owners should remain vigilant and continue to act with caution.
However, it is up to each individual pet owner to decide what they feel is the most likely truth of the matter, and to do their research to make an informed conclusion.