Police investigating Utah factory employees after alleged animal abuse


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Editor’s note: The Facebook video in the article may be disturbing for some viewers. There is also some offensive language embedded post.

LEHI, Utah — Police are investigating allegations that employees at a factory near Lehi have been beating, poisoning and abusing feral cats on the premises, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Spencer Cannon.

Utah Refractories Corp., a factory located in an unincorporated territory of Utah County near Lehi, keeps large quantities of specialty sand to produce bricks used in glass melting tanks. Over the years, the sand has attracted stray and feral cats who use the sand as a litter box, according to Cannon.

“(Utah Refractories) has a legitimate interest in ridding their property of these cats,” Cannon told KSL.com. “The allegation is the way they’re doing that … is abusive or cruel to these cats.”

Police received initial reports of the alleged abuse on Aug. 18 after photos and a video of abused cats went viral on Facebook.

The original poster claimed to have been contacted by an employee of Utah Refractories who had spoken to management at the factory after allegedly witnessing employees abusing the cats at the order of management. The employee claimed the cats were being poisoned, shot with pellets and beaten to death. The Facebook post included a video of a cat shaking and trembling, as if it had been poisoned.

According to the poster, the employee was threatened with termination if he did not stop causing “cat problems” but was given permission to trap and remove the cats in a humane way. The Facebook poster claims they helped the employee remove 18 cats but that there were still more on the premise and that the abuse continued.

“We have evidence so far that leads us to believe that there’s a pretty good likelihood that some abuse may be occurring,” Cannon said. “The next thing we need to do is determine who is responsible for that — either ordering it or actually doing it — and what the nature of it actually is.”

Cannon said many have sent the video of the trembling cat to the Utah County Sheriff’s Facebook page. He noted the feline’s behavior was similar to behavior he witnessed in humans affected by a nerve agent chemical but also mentioned that the cat may also have been sick.

“It was very disturbing to me, it kind of made me sick to my stomach because (the cat) appeared to be suffering,” Cannon said. “So we need to try and verify where that (video) was actually taken. For all we know that could have been in south Texas or northern Montana, but we want to verify that … this video was taken on this property.”

A voice can be heard in the video and Cannon said detectives on the case are looking into details.

The investigation is currently ongoing.

This article was originally published at KSL.com. It is used here with permission.