JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Pet owners in Cedar Hills are concerned after they say cats in their neighborhood have vanished.
“I know of at least three cats in the neighborhood that were pets and are now missing," said Hunter Dechman, a resident of the neighborhood.
Dechman said his 3-year-old cat, Griffen, has not been seen in a week. He said Griffen would come inside every night, but he never came home last Friday.
Dechman is not the only pet owner in the area to have a cat recently disappear.
“He was a little wild, so he needed some outdoor time.” Dechman said. “I went around with a picture of my cat to my neighbors.”
Dechman explained that’s when he learned other cats in the neighborhood were missing and he believes a nearby resident is to blame.
“I showed a pic to his wife and himself and originally he did not admit to having seen the cat," Dechman said. "But upon my wife further speaking to him about knowing they had been trapping cats, he got very belligerent and told us to get off his property and he was not going to tell us anything about where he is dropping the cats off. He admitted to trapping multiple cats. Random, unknown places throughout the city and just releasing them.”
Also missing: Kitty Kiki, who has not been seen since September 2019.
“I went to my neighbor’s. I knew he trapped a raccoon, so I was like, ‘Oh maybe he trapped my cat.’ I went and I asked him, and he told me, ‘Maybe yes, maybe not.' I was like, ‘Well, did you catch it?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ Where did you drop it off? He said, ‘Somewhere far away,'" explained the cat’s owner, who asked not to be identified.
The owner said the neighbor admitted to abandoning the cat on Lane Avenue near I-10.
“I cried for weeks. He was my baby," the owner said. "Now I have to be in fear, be sure my cat only goes out for a few seconds.”
News4Jax is not naming the neighbor who was accused of relocating the cats, as he has not knowingly been charged with a crime. No one answered the door of the neighbor’s listed address.
Photos obtained by News4Jax show traps in the backyard of the person’s home.
By Jacksonville law, a pet owner must have custody of their animal at all times. A violator is subject to a civil fine.
“We understand our liability with that," Dechmen said. "To be honest, if he would have trapped our cat and brought it to the shelter or a vet, we would have been notified because he is chipped.”
Now Dechman is hoping someone in Jacksonville will do the neighborly thing and keep an eye out for Griffen.