PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eleven skinned animals dumped near a public park in northeastern Pennsylvania are now believed to be foxes, not puppies.
Necropsies performed Monday show that at least one was killed by buckshot and the others may have been trapped, a Lehigh County Humane Society official said.
DNA testing to confirm the species will take several weeks, but the eye sockets and teeth suggest they are adult foxes, humane society shelter manager Cary Moran said late Monday afternoon.
Fox hunting is legal in Pennsylvania from October through February, according to the state game commission website.
Moran was relieved to learn the animals were not domesticated dogs but was still concerned about the discovery, given that legitimate hunters would properly dispose of their kill. Her agency is still investigating the death of a larger animal found skinned, with its feet cut off and rope tied to one leg, a week earlier in Lynn Township, about 20 miles away.
Unless a witness comes forward, it's usually difficult to make arrests in animal cruelty cases, authorities said. And that means the person's motive for leaving the animals there remains unclear.
"That's what's so scary about not being able to (solve) these cases, and find out what happened, because you don't know who's out there," Moran said.
The other animal seemed too big to be a fox but might have been sought for its pelt, humane society Officer Christine Wiggins said. Two pairs of thin latex gloves were found beside the animal and will be sent to a forensics lab.
Wiggins initially thought the two cases might be related, given that the animals were skinned.
Neighbors and friends are often reluctant to report animal cruelty, fearing retribution, animal welfare officials said.
"Someone usually knows but is afraid to come forward. Often there are multiple witnesses who maybe feel intimidated to not 'snitch,'" said Wendy A. Marano, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.