Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 2, 2013

Agency offering reward in puppy deaths case

By GREG JORDAN & CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — The state director of the Humane Society of the United States announced Wednesday that the agency is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for killing more than 10 pit bull puppies and discarding their bodies near Bluefield.

“The killing of these puppies is a despicable crime, and we are thankful that the authorities are investigating,” Summer Wyatt, state director for the Humane Society of the United States and a former resident of Mercer County, said. “We hope that this reward will bring forward anyone with information about this heinous act of cruelty.”

Under state law, if an investigation uncovers that the puppies were killed, Wyatt said the person(s) responsible could face felony cruelty to animal charges. A person convicted on the charge could face one to five years in a state penitentiary.

The decomposing remains of the 10 pit bull puppies are now being examined at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., to determine how they died.

The puppies were found April 28 after a property owner at the Grassy Branch Road area near Bluefield reported an odor to Mercer County 911. Witnesses had seen somebody in a vehicle dump several bags at that location two days earlier.

When a Mercer County animal control investigated, she found the remains of at least 10 pit bull puppies.

Animal control officers and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department are now working on the case, said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John McGinnis.

“The remains of the puppies have been sent to Virginia Tech for a necropsy,” McGinnis said Wednesday. He was not given a deadline for when the examinations would be completed. A necropsy is an autopsy performed on an animal. The work is being carried out by the university’s school of veterinary medicine.

“I do not expect it should be very long,” he said.

Sgt. S.J. Cary with the sheriff’s department and animal control officers are collecting tips and other information from the community, McGinnis said. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department at 304-487-8364.