Public must help solve animal killings

Is there a serial animal killer stalking Sacramento? It sure looks that way.

Whatever the reasons behind the recent spree of barbaric livestock beheadings, officials need to quickly find the culprits and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

The most likely way this disturbing mystery will be solved is through a tip from the public. So officials hope the $5,000 reward announced Thursday by the Humane Society of the United States will shake loose some badly needed information.

So far, the city’s Animal Care Services division, which is leading the investigation, is at a loss to explain the beheadings of goats and chickens, plus a lamb, a rabit and a tortoise. Some of the dead animals have been discovered with blood-soaked dollar bills or tea candles.

There have been 11 cases discovered since Jan. 8 – an unusually high number. They have been concentrated in midtown near the railroad tracks at 19th and V streets, and in Reichmuth Park in South Land Park.

Gina Knepp, the division’s manager, says some of the beheadings have clear signs of being part of some kind of religious or other ritual that includes animal sacrifice. If that’s the case, those participating would ease a lot of minds if they would say so publicly.

But other killings have the trappings of animal cruelty. It’s possible that more recent ones are the work of a copycat. The scariest scenario is that this might be the doing of a severely troubled young person. Criminologists say that violence toward animals can presage harm to people.

The potential crimes range from felony animal cruelty, carrying up to a year in prison for each count, to an illegal dumping citation. While Sacramento police officers are on the lookout for suspicious activity, the department will not get directly involved until there’s a suspect.

With the growing number of cases, a wider circle of people probably know who is responsible. Someone needs to do the right thing and step forward.