Edmund Cunninghman of Middletown, Ohio, USA behaved perfectly normally when he attended New Beginnings Animal Rescue owned and run by Taylor Buttelwerth.
Cunningham had made contact with Buttelwerth via Petfinder online. He claimed that he did not have any pets and needed a companion animal for the family.
Subsequently, Cunningham went to the rescue and adopted a ten-week-old kitten, Evie. Can you imagine how sad that is. This poor kitten was going to her death.
Buttelwerth said that she operates a thorough vetting system. She has a questionnaire and she said that she talked to him for quite a time to vet him. He behaved in a completely normal way claiming he had a wife and a daughter. He said they were excited about having a kitten at home.
She realises now that he is a good actor and liar. There were no warning signs that she was dealing with a serial cat abuser and killer (‘alleged’ I should say because at this stage he has not been convicted).
Cunningham sent photographs of his new kitten with his daughter at home to convince the animal rescue that he was genuine and that all was well.
Subsequently, the local police received complaints from locals that Cunningham was harming kittens and cats. He consented to the police searching his home, an apartment at Shady Creek Apartments.
They discovered nine frozen cats and kittens in his freezer. He admitted to killing eight of the cats and kittens. Cunningham has been charged with nine. counts of animal cruelty.
Would a home visit have prevented this?
The point of the article is that the most ‘normal’ rescue cat adopter can be the most heinous animal abuser. It would seem that one check that Buttelwerth did not make was a home visit. Would that have protected the cats? It might have if the visit was unannounced. Otherwise it would not have stopped this man.