Weekly News Roundup 4/27–5/3


Serial cat killer has England on edge

A serial cat killer is on the loose in England, and police are baffled. Known as the Croydon Cat Killer, the elusive criminal has, by some estimates, killed as many as 450 small animals, mostly housecats, in the last three years. Police say the list of victims also includes a few foxes and rabbits. So far, despite a nationwide manhunt, he or she is still at large and has left no forensic evidence or other identifying clues while miraculously evading the more than four million surveillance cameras that monitor Great Britain. The killings started in 2015 in the London suburb of Croydon, then spread across the country.

Study: Having an outdoor cat makes people think you’re less ecofriendly

Researchers performed a study using an online environmentally friendly community using two different fake profiles. The profiles were exactly the same—dedication to solar panels, low-impact lawn and other aspects of a green lifestyle—with one difference: one profile had an image that suggested the user had an outdoor cat. When people who viewed the profiles were surveyed, the presence of an outdoor cat significantly lowered their opinion of the user’s sustainability. Outdoor cats, the researchers said, are “a divisive issue for many nature lovers because of the threat they pose to wildlife, particularly birds.” But the cats created a reaction so negative that people then ignored virtually all the evidence that the user was attempting to be environmentally friendly.

Keep your eyes peeled for puma

Mountain lions who roam two Southern California mountain ranges separated by a freeway are the impetus for a recent land purchase—the first step toward creating a wildlife crossing to enable the pumas to mingle and breed. The Nature Conservancy has purchased a 73-acre property adjacent to the eastern side of Interstate 15 just north of the Riverside County line. On the other side of the freeway is an ecological preserve. The goal is to build a tunnel beneath or a bridge across the heavily traveled freeway to connect the Santa Ana and Palomar mountains. Lions from the Palomar range, which experts believe may number in the hundreds and are healthier than those in the Santa Anas, would be able to interact and mate with the Santa Ana lions on both sides of the freeway after the crossing is constructed.

United Airlines will ban dozens of dog and cat breeds under new guidelines

In response to the controversial death of a dog on a United Airlines flight in March, the carrier is overhauling its pet travel policy, including banning the transport of dozens of breeds of dogs and cats in the cargo compartment. Passengers can still bring small pets, including many of the breeds banned in cargo, into the cabin if the animal’s carrier fits under the seat. The new policy doesn’t address service animals or emotional-support animals. It also appears to effectively ban some fully grown large breeds, including mastiffs and some bulldogs, since they won’t be allowed in the cargo hold and would appear to not fit under a seat in the cabin.

Veterinary student sells horses for dog food in rehoming scam

A veterinary student has been accused of duping people who needed help caring for their elderly horses in a scam that instead sent the animals to slaughter, probably for dog food. “She was getting the horses and telling the owners they were going to nice pasture land and would happily live [out] their days,” said Macon County (Alabama) Sheriff Andre Brunson. “What she was doing was taking the horses to slaughter.” Fallon Blackwood, 23, a third-year Tuskegee University veterinary student, is accused of using the same scam on dozens of people in at least five states. In most cases, the owners were looking for help with their old horses because a change in their life or finances made care for the animals difficult. Some owners said Blackwood also promised discounts on all future veterinary needs. Blackwood was arrested earlier this month in Macon County on felony charges of obtaining property under false pretense.


NEWStat Interesting/unusual