A cat critically injured from a stab wound this morning later died from its injuries and the group of males suspected of injuring the animal fled before deputies arrived, according to the Hernando County Animal Services.
Emergency operators from the sheriff's office got a call around 1:45 a.m. from a man who had heard strange noises coming from the back of his home in the area of Seadragon Bluff, deputies said.
When the man walked outside, he saw four males intentionally harming a cat. The noises he heard were coming from the scared and injured animal, said sheriff's office spokeswoman Denise Moloney.
The area was too dark and the witness could not provide a description of the four suspects, but he thought he saw one of the men stabbing the cat, according to the sheriff's office.
After the suspects ran away, the resident checked on the cat and noticed it was seriously injured with a puncture wound to its stomach. He brought it in his home and animal services responded and took custody of the injured animal, deputies said.
By early this afternoon, the cat's condition worsened and it died, said Mike Nickerson, public safety director for Hernando County.
He would not disclose the name of the veterinary clinic that cared for the cat, but confirmed the animal died from its stab wound as well as "blunt force trauma" from the attack.
A necropsy – a postmortem medical examination of an animal – will be performed, Nickerson said. The findings are expected to be made public this week.
The man who called the sheriff's office told deputies he had seen the cat around the apartment complex in the past, but he was unaware who owned it, according to a media release.
On Aug. 2, Wilana Frazer was sentenced to one year in jail after she was convicted of two counts of animal cruelty. On June 10, 2011, the Brooksville woman fatally beat two stray kittens with an aluminum baseball bat at Hill 'n Dale Community Park.
The case sparked outrage from animal rights activists across the country.
The four suspects in today's incident were last seen heading east toward the Suncoast Parkway. The stabbing took place at the Habiscus Springs apartment complex near the corner of Barclay Avenue and Spring Hill Drive.
Deputies are asking anyone with information to call the sheriff's office at (352) 754-6830.