Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 4, 2013

Animal control to lead pit probe

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — The Mercer County Sheriff’s Department has transferred the investigation into the deaths of approximately 10 pit bull puppies that were discovered last weekend near Bluefield over to the Mercer County Animal Control officer, according to John McGinnis, assistant Mercer County prosecuting attorney.

“The investigation hasn’t changed,” McGinnis said. “The Mercer County Animal Control officers have been doing most of the work with the assistance of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department.

“I appreciate the assistance of the sheriff’s department,” McGinnis said. “Sgt. (S.C.) Cary has been a great benefit to the investigation, but based on the amount of crime that we have in the county, priorities change. The Animal Control officers are doing an excellent job. This investigation has not slowed down one bit.”

McGinnis said that he hopes to receive the necropsy results as well as the results from other tests from Virginia Tech next week. “At this point, we still don’t know if a crime has been committed,” McGinnis said.

On April 26, a Mercer County resident observed a vehicle dumping bags in the Grassy Branch Road area that were ultimately found to contain the remains of at least 10 pit bull puppies. The resident contacted the Bluefield animal control officer on Sunday. Randall Thompson determined the dump site was outside the city limits and referred the case to the county animal control officers. The Humane Society of America has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for killing the 10 or more pit bull puppies and dumping them at that location.

In an unrelated issue, Bluefield City Manager Jim Ferguson said that 88 pit bull owners have registered 120 pit bull dogs in the city since the city’s new ordinance passed on April 23.

“Pit bull owners will have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 6, to register their pit bulls,” Ferguson said. “That is 10 full working days from when the ordinance was passed.

“If nothing else, this ordinance has resulted in a lot of vaccinated pets,” Ferguson said. “The registrations are very important for police officers and firefighters. It lets these emergency responders know where a dangerous animal is so they can be prepared to deal with it when they arrive.”

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com