Animal rights activists are sounding the alarm in the northern community of Kiryat Tivon, warning the public that a serial poisoner may be on the loose. Approximately 40 dogs and cats have been poisoned in the community in the past two weeks.
The AHAVAH organization, which tries to save animals and especially abandoned pets, believes that the number of cats and dogs actually poisoned exceeds the number they've discovered thus far.
The poisoning seems to have started in the area of Rehov Sharet, where 20 cats and two dogs were poisoned. One of the dogs had his stomach pumped and was saved, but the others succumbed.
"When it was in one isolated place, I thought that perhaps it was an accident, that maybe somebody had tried to poison flies or something like that," said Yehudit Kantor, a local resident and activist with AHAVAH.
But the next week, the poisoner struck again, this time in another area.
An 11-year-old family dog named Sheleg was in her yard when someone threw poisoned food over the fence.
To his horror, Sheleg's owner's young son was forced to witness his beloved pet's demise.
Sheleg's owners emphasized that she was a quiet, elderly dog who did not bark and never left the yard, and was very picky about what she ate. She was immediately affected by the poison, and although her distraught owners rushed her to the clinic of local veterinarian Dr. Yair Ben-Tzioni, Sheleg died within a half-hour, in obvious pain.
Dr. Ben-Tzioni said that the poison used to kill Sheleg seemed to be organic, and emphasized that it would take a significant amount of the poison to kill a 45-kilogram dog.
Kantor was in the veterinary clinic when Sheleg was admitted. "A dog came in - a beautiful, calm, affectionate white dog," she said. "At first, even after I heard that she was poisoned, I didn't even begin to think that it was related to what happened on Rehov Sharet. But later in the evening, I realized that the events might be connected."
Kantor and Sheleg's owners went to the police station the next morning to file an official complaint.
When Kantor returned, she bumped into her neighbor.
"He told me that he had heard his dog barking. When he went outside to see what was happening, he saw a cat whimpering in pain. A little while later, the cat died."
Kantor said that she immediately suspected poisoning, and asked her neighbor where he had disposed of the body. Upon finding the remains, Kantor realized that it was one of her own cats.
"Now this poisoning has come to my street, to my house. This was a cat that never left the house - he only went to my neighbor because cats don't like to die at home."
AHAVAH representatives said that when they had attempted to encourage local residents to submit a group complaint to police, they were told that the residents had heard rumors that a satanic cult was behind the poisonings. Residents allegedly told them that they were concerned that if they submitted an official complaint, they or their families would be targeted.
But AHAVAH representatives - who have previously encountered situations in which satanic cults have murdered animals - said they believe that this case is not such an instance but rather "a poisoner who derives pleasure from murder for the sake of murder."
"If today he puts poison in meat to kill animals then maybe next time he'll put it in candies for children," said Kantor.
The organization is seeking volunteers to go house-to-house and canvass neighbors to see if they noticed anything out of the ordinary.
Just last month, police uncovered such a case in which they believe that alleged serial killer 18-year-old Rostislav Bogoslevsky, began his spree by killing hundreds of street cats in Petah Tikva - and later moved on to attacking and killing people.
AHAVAH HOTLINE: 09-95808833 (Open until 20:00)