Four kittens with slashed throats were tossed early this week into the rear yard of a Riverhead business, the Suffolk SPCA said, as it offered a $1,000 reward to find those responsible.

The black-and-gray striped kittens were found Tuesday morning in the parking area of Riverhead Brake Service, an East Main Street business whose rear faces Hubbard Avenue, said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They were likely left there between 5 p.m. Monday, when the business closed, and 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, when it reopened, he said.

"They're small, little smaller than the size of your hand," Gross said. "The slaughter of these innocent kittens, when their eyes haven't even been opened to the world yet, we find this very disturbing."

The kittens appeared to be about 3 weeks old, he said.

A worker at the business discovered them scattered about 2 feet apart, small puddles of blood under each, in the yard Tuesday morning, said Francis Bujnicki, co-owner of the brake business.

"He thought it was a couple of rags on the ground," Bujnicki said. "They were so tiny, they didn't even have a lot of blood in them."

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Bujnicki said he called Riverhead police and later placed the kittens in a box and buried them in the side yard of the property.

"I said a little prayer for them," he said. "I felt so bad. All of them were identical. Why would anybody do this?"

SPCA investigators recovered the bodies and want the public's help in finding the kitten slasher.

Gross said anyone who finds animals who may have deliberately killed or abused should secure the area so the evidence can be collected. "Don't touch anything," he said.

He emphasized the importance to society of finding the kitten slasher and other animal abusers.

"I'm not going to say that this is the next serial killer," Gross said. But, he said, "most people who hurt animals hurt people. A person like this could be a dangerous person."

Anyone with information may call the SPCA at 631-382-7722. Calls will be confidential.