The mystery surrounding the poisoning of Sergei Skripal has deepened after British officials confirmed the deaths of his pets. A cat and two guinea pigs died after investigators sealed off the ex-double agent’s home.
Russia’s UN envoy has called for an explanation of the animals’ deaths. Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia became seriously ill on March 4 after being exposed to a nerve agent and his home was sealed off by investigators days later.
The guinea pigs were found dead inside the Salisbury residence which has been the hub of considerable police activity in recent weeks as officers searched for evidence surrounding the poisoning of the former double agent.
Skripal’s cat, reportedly named Nash Van Drake, was found alive inside the property weeks after it was sealed off and taken to the Porton Down chemical weapons lab for testing. However, according to British officials, the animal was in such a distressed state that officials decided to euthanize it.
“The property in Wiltshire was sealed as part of the police investigation,” a spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.
“When a vet was able to access the property, two guinea pigs had sadly died. A cat was also found in a distressed state and a decision was taken by a veterinary surgeon to euthanize the animal to alleviate its suffering.
“This decision was taken in the best interests of the animal and its welfare,” the spokesperson concluded.
The government statement comes after Russia’s UN envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, asked about the status of the animals at Thursday’s Security Council meeting.
“What happened to these animals? Why doesn’t anyone mention them? Their condition is also an important piece of evidence,” he said. Nebenzia mentioned two cats and two guinea pigs. No information has been provided about the second cat.
The Russian Embassy in the UK also sought answers regarding the welfare of the animals, saying it learnt about them from Skripal’s niece Viktoria.
“To better understand what happened to Sergey and Yulia Skripal, it is essential to know if the animals also suffered from chemical poisoning,” the embassy said. “We have therefore officially requested the Foreign Office to provide us with the respective information, including on whether the animals are receiving any treatment.”
The revelation that the animals had died caused considerable reaction on social media with many wondering why it had taken officials so long to find the animals despite so much police activity at the home.