ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - A dozen neighborhood cats have recently died or disappeared in downtown Arlington, and many business owners are turning to police for help because they suspect foul play.
"These cats of Main Street had a home," said Sarah Hughes, who works nearby.
A long row of white crosses covers two streets along Main Street in Arlington. Each cross represents a feral cat that has either gone missing or has been found dead in recent weeks. Hughes stopped next to a cross with the word "missing" crossed out. It has been replaced with "R.I.P."
"This was one of our missing momma cats," Hughes explained. "We found her deceased under one of these businesses."
For more than a decade, the community of business owners and employees along Main Street has cared for the colony of feral cats that call the area home. They make sure that the cats have plenty of food and water. And, through its trap-neuter-return program, the Friends of Arlington Animal Shelter has also ensured that the cats are vaccinated and spayed or neutered.
Hughes said that the cats even provide a service to their community -- helping keep the rodent population down.
But, in the past two weeks, the cats have stopped coming around to their food bowls. Neighbors have reported finding a dozen of them dead, and many more missing. Suspecting foul play, one business owner filed a police report.
Neighbors said that threats had previously been made by someone in the community. Hughes said, "Something to the effect of 'What would you do if your cats came up missing or dead?'"
Neighbors also noticed that the food in their cat bowls had recently been switched out. It may have been tampered with. "I'm pretty sure they're poisoning them. Either putting rat poison or antifreeze -- which is really easy to get," Hughes said.
With less than a handful of cats left -- perhaps just two -- the group who cares for them is afraid that they will continue having to add crosses to an already long row on Main Street.
"Why would someone even do that? I mean, they weren't bothering anybody," Hughes said. "They're well taken care of."
This community of downtown Arlington neighbors has started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for a large reward. It is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of whoever is responsible for killing the cats. CBS 11 News is also waiting to hear back from the Arlington Police Department regarding this case.
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