An Alexandria, Virginia, man is facing an animal cruelty charge after authorities say two of his cats turned up dead and one was injured.
Ryan McCuskey is a health care executive, but the health of his cats is under investigation by animal control officers.
Court documents show that in April, McCuskey called the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria to inquire about disposing of a dead cat. Three days later, he took an injured cat to a veterinary clinic in Springfield, about 10 miles away.
And in mid-May, he showed up at an animal hospital in the Del Ray area of Alexandria with a cat named Gato. Documents say that McCuskey told the vet that Gato had gotten into a tube of super glue and was choking.
But the vet found electrical tape wrapped tightly around the cat's neck, and other signs of strangulation.
Gato died, and the vet called animal services.
The investigation led to a misdemeanor charge against McCuskey.
His lawyer said they had no comment on the allegation.
McCuskey's case is the latest example of local animal control officers investigating injuries to animals much like police investigate injuries to people.
Animal abuse cases are taken seriously in part because they can be indicators of abuse against people, Loudoun County Animal Services Director Nina Stively said.
"If law enforcement and social services are able to identify early that there's an animal issue, it's often a red flag that there are human issues as well," she said.
Next week, animal control and other law enforcement officers will attend a class in Loudoun County to bolster their skills.
"We want to make sure that our officers have the skill set to fully investigate [these crimes], to the full extent of the law," Stively said.
Animal cruelty cases are complicated, and there's a high bar for reaching convictions, said Heidi Meinzer, board president of the D.C.-area rescue group Homeward Trails.
"You have a victim who can't tell you what happened," she said.