Elisa Allen, the director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Britain (PETA UK), has blamed British authorities for the deaths of pets owned by former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia who were allegedly poisoned in Britain's Salisbury earlier this month, according to The Independent.
"These deaths are another tragedy of this horrific situation, and this time, the British authorities are evidently to blame," Allen pointed out.
She called for a probe into the matter "to determine how this was allowed to happen and ensure that procedures are put in place to prevent any such loss of lives – which were valued by the Skripals and the animals themselves – from ever happening again."
PETA UK, in turn, said on its Twitter page that "no one should have left these animals inside the house any more than they would have done children – clearly, they should have been rescued."
"PETA is calling for an investigation in order to determine how this was allowed to happen & ensure that procedures are put in place," the organization added.
The remarks came after Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the fate of the Skripals' cat, which was taken to Porton Down lab and then put down, as well as the fact that the pets' remains were cremated, look strange as "the animals could've become an important piece of evidence in the chemical poisoning case."
She added that the pets were "really important witnesses when it comes to a chemical substance, which, in a number of versions, could have been used in the Skripals' house."
The Russian Embassy in the UK, for its part, suggested that the animals' remains were disposed of as an "inconvenient piece of evidence."
Earlier this week, the UK government confirmed that the Skripals' long-haired black Persian cat had been put down at the Porton Down lab and then cremated, while a pair of guinea pigs were sealed into the Skripals' house and later died.
The developments came as Christine Blanshard, a medical director at Salisbury District Hospital, stated on Friday that Sergei Skripal "is responding well to treatment, improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition." The UK's Metropolitan Police Service, in turn, stated on behalf of Skripal's daughter Yulia that she woke up a week ago and that "her strength is growing daily."
Russia rejects the allegations, citing a lack of evidence and calling for a joint investigation into the Skripal case. This week, the head of the Porton Down chemical weapons lab admitted that contrary to earlier claims made by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, they failed to conclude that the poison used in the Skripal case was of Russian origin.