SPCA Sleuths Bust West Hampton Dunes Man for Drowning Mom’s Cat

Suffolk SPCA arrested Michael Moskowitz for drowning his mother's cat instead of euthanizing it
Suffolk SPCA arrested Michael Moskowitz for drowning his mother's cat instead of euthanizing it, Photo: Courtesy Suffolk SPCA

Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) arrested Michael Moskowitz, 53, of West Hampton Dunes on Sunday, October 22 and charged him with felony aggravated cruelty to animals for drowning his mother’s cat in Moriches Bay because he did not want to pay to euthanize the animal. 

Sometime in June, Moskowitz consulted with a veterinarian to euthanize his mother’s longtime cat, Bonnie, but upon hearing the cost, he decided to take matters into his own hands. With no regard for Bonnie, Moskowitz went to Moriches Bay and tossed the cat, still locked in its carrier, into the 65-degree water, where the terrified animal drowned.

About three months later, on September 18, a beach cleanup volunteer found the locked crate and Bonnie’s corpse inside it on Gull Island where it had washed ashore among bits of trash and refuse. “He was totally shocked when he saw the decomposed remains of a cat in the closed crate,” Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross said, explaining that the volunteer had the wherewithal to call his office and report the find—something not everyone would think to do.

The SPCA mounted an “in-depth investigation,” according to Gross, which eventually led them to Moskowitz, who admitted to the crime and told officers he was euthanizing the pet instead of paying a licensed veterinarian to end its life humanely. “It was good detective work by the Suffolk SPCA detectives,” Gross said, though he would not reveal details of how the month-long investigation led them to Moskowitz. “This was just a heinous, brutal act,” Gross said later, pointing out that he never gets used to the terrible things people do to innocent animals. “Just think about that cat sinking…”

Moskowitz received the felony aggravated cruelty to animals charge under “Buster’s Law,” named for a cat that was doused in kerosene and lit on fire in 1997. Signed into law in 1999, the legislation made aggravated cruelty to companion animals, such as dogs and cats, a felony rather than a misdemeanor as it had been. The law stipulates aggravated cruelty as when a person “intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal” with “conduct intended to cause extreme physical pain; or (ii) is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.”

The charge carries a punishment of up to two years in prison.

“Most of us consider a companion animal as a family member,” Gross said, noting earlier, “This was a cat they had for years—it was total disregard.”

Following his arrest and confession Sunday, Moskowitz was arraigned in Southampton Town Court on Monday, October 23 and released on $2,500 bail. His sentencing date is not yet available.

If you suspect anyone of engaging in animal cruelty, it’s imperative that you report it to the Suffolk SPCA at 631-382-7722. “An animal can’t pick up the phone to call us,” Gross said. “We need people to call.”

Established in 1984, the Suffolk County SPCA had 3,000 reports of animal abuse last year. The organization keeps all calls confidential and investigates each and every allegation.

Visit suffolkspca.org for more info.

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