MEXICO CITY — Somebody is systematically poisoning the dogs of Hermosillo, an industrial city in northern Mexico, and not just strays. At least 64 dogs, all with owners, have died of a similar poison since mid-March. More stray animals have probably been killed, but had no one to file a complaint, authorities say.

An organic phosphate compound, possibly an insecticide or rat poison, apparently was used in most of the cases, and local media have dubbed the person responsible the “Mataperros,” or “The Dog Killer.”

Not even dogs kept behind the walls of their owners’ homes are safe – officials say the killer has tossed poison into the gated patios of some homes.

No one knows who the dog killer is, whether the killings involve more than one person or what caused them to turn against dogs.

A male caller to a local radio station in Hermosillo claimed to be, along with accomplices, the killer.

But he complained about loose dogs, dog bites and dogs spreading disease and uncleanliness – complaints that don’t jibe with attacks on pets inside their owners’ homes.

Animal rights activist Carolina de la Torre said she doubts that one person could have poisoned so many dogs. But she noted there appears to be a modus operandi of poison wrapped in a hot dog or meat as bait.

“This is systematic. This can’t be the work of one person alone,” said De la Torre, who says a total of at least 71 dogs have been killed in the city of about 800,000.

“It could range from a neighbor who is bothered by noise (from pets), or even thieves who want to get rid of the dog in order to be able to break into the house,” said De la Torre.

“Those are the two theories we are looking at.”


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