WASHINGTON CITY — Police and families in Washington City are working to find the person responsible for impaling a cat with a 7-inch dart Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s scary. I’m really worried about our neighborhood,” said Carrie Colvin, the owner of the black cat named “Pepper” who came home with the blowgun dart sticking out of its side.
Colvin, whose family lives just south of the Virgin River on Sandia Road in Washington City, said the cat was only let out of the house for around 20 minutes when the incident occurred.
After her son let the cat out at about 3:40 p.m. Wednesday, Colvin’s daughter returned home from school at about 4:05 p.m. and noticed something protruding from the cat.
“She didn’t know what it was,” Colvin told St. George News. “When she tried removing it, it wouldn’t budge.”
Colvin’s son recognized its distinct features as a blowgun dart, at which point the family rushed the cat to the veterinarian.
X-rays came back showing a 7-inch dart near the animal’s spine that had entered between its shoulder blades. The veterinarian could feel the tip of the dart under the skin where it was lodged on the other end of the cat.
A surgical procedure was performed on the cat in order to pull out the dart.
“Fortunately, it didn’t hit the spine, the lungs, the ribcage or any other organs,” Colvin said.
“We’re very fortunate that our cat’s going to be OK,” she said, “but I believe the intention of the person who did it was to kill the animal.”
After such a disturbing incident, Colvin took to social media and shared photos of the dart and X-rays on various groups on Facebook. It wasn’t long after posting before she received a message from a neighbor who lives only three streets away describing a similar dart found in their backyard.
“My wife found the same type of blow dart in our backyard about two to three weeks ago,” the neighbor, Chad Smith, said. “We were pretty sure someone was trying to hit our dogs.”
About a week later, Smith said his wife saw someone in the backyard apparently returning to retrieve the dart, but whoever it was got scared off by their dogs and jumped the fence before his wife could get a glimpse of the person’s face.
The Colvins reported the incident involving their cat to the Washington City Police Department, and an officer was sent to their home Wednesday evening to investigate.
“We haven’t identified any suspects at this time,” Washington City Police Lt. Jason Williams told St. George News Thursday morning. “We’re still canvassing that area and talking with people that might know who’s been in the area and if they’ve got a blowgun to propel these darts.”
Williams said the department takes incidents of animal cruelty seriously and whoever is responsible for injuring the cat could face animal cruelty charges.
“It’s unfortunate and tragic that these animals, whether stray or domesticated, become targets for people,” he said. “Seeing them suffer, it’s pretty disturbing.”
Both Colvin and Smith said this incident has made them wary of letting their animals outside without supervision.
“It was very scary for us,” Colvin said. “We felt like we can’t trust animals being out now because you never know.”
She said she hopes sharing the information with police and on social media will prompt someone’s recognition of the blowgun or person responsible.
Police are likewise asking the public to share any information they may have about this or other incidents involving blowgun darts.
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