National Zoo Employee Found Guilty of Attempted Animal Cruelty

Accused of spiking cat food with antifreeze

Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011  |  Updated 10:33 AM EDT
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Someone's been trying to kill feral cats in Columbia Heights while some residents of an apartment building have been trying to save them.  It's a tale of urban wild life that could end up in court and the suspect is an employee of the National Zoo.  Derrick Ward reports on this exclusive story.

Someone's been trying to kill feral cats in Columbia Heights while some residents of an apartment building have been trying to save them. It's a tale of urban wild life that could end up in court and the suspect is an employee of the National Zoo. Derrick Ward reports on this exclusive story.

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A National Zoo employee charged with trying to poison stray cats in her northwest Washington neighborhood has been found guilty of attempted cruelty to animals.

A D.C. Superior Court judge found Nico Dauphine guilty of the misdemeanor on Monday. Dauphine faces a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine when she is sentenced on Nov. 21.

Near Malcolm X Park in Columbia Heights, some residents have been leaving food out for a pack of feral cats that roams the neighborhood.

Some residents believed someone was spiking that food, and asked the Washington Humane Society to investigate.  The Humane Society told News4 that after an investigation, they found antifreeze and rat poison in the food.

Dauphine's lawyer argued during a trial that although security cameras captured Dauphine hovering over a bowl of cat food in March, his client was removing the food to keep the cats from congregating.

Prosecutors, however, said a second video showed Dauphine reaching into a plastic bag and dumping poison onto the food.

Dauphine repeatedly denied throwing rat poison on the food.  Her lawyer declined to comment after the trial.

Dauphine, a Ph.D specializing in bird conservation, has written and lectured on the destructive impact of cats on bird population, including an online presentation titled "Apocalypse Meow."

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