AR-News: (KY) KSP probes missing dog cases
Animalara2003 at aol.com
Animalara2003 at aol.com
Thu Nov 13 19:05:54 EST 2003
By Shelly Whitehead
Post staff reporter
When Rachael Poole found her beloved family dog's dead body dumped like so
much garbage in her parents' Grant County driveway Aug. 10, little remained of
the affectionate American Boxer look-alike. He had disappeared from the home
just three days earlier.
His throat had been ripped out. His shoulder and lower jaw were missing. And
huge chunks of flesh were torn from his belly and legs. Clearly, the Pooles'
pet dog, Scooby, had died a horrifying and violent death.
Now, three months and dozens of missing-dogs reports later, Kentucky State
Police are actively investigating allegations of a multi-county dog-theft ring
and a national animal rights organization is offering a $2,500 reward for
information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
It's the attention Rachael Poole has been determined to get ever since the
day she lost her cherished family dog.
"I've kept it going. Even though the police weren't taking it seriously, and
the court was not taking it seriously," said Poole, a 29-year-old Verona
homemaker, who says she has received at least 100 e-mails from people in Northern
Kentucky and southwest Ohio who believe their dogs were stolen in recent
"Everyone has said that police just don't take animal cases seriously and --
it's true that (some local) police have been telling reporters and news crews
and everybody that up until now they haven't had any reports of stolen dogs.
But everyone that's e-mailed me about their dogs missing, I tell them to call
police. Then they call me back with the officer's name they talked to. -- But
police are saying nobody's called them."
Kentucky State Police Detective Chris Jaskowiak says after recently receiving
calls from animal welfare organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals about the alleged dog thefts, the Dry Ridge post opened a formal
investigation to explore whether such a crime ring is operating in Northern
PETA is offering the reward.
Though the probe was just officially opened last week, Jaskowiak said police
have received numerous leads, many pointing toward the operators of a Northern
Kentucky kennel as possible suspects, he said.
But Jaskowiak said the case is complicated. In Kentucky, dogs are considered
property, and as such when stolen they must be identified like any stolen
property -- through owner identification information. The problem is that most dog
owners only provide such information on a collar or tag -- the first things
thieves remove from a stolen animal.
Jaskowiak says few pet owners tattoo or microchip their animals, which might
provide incontrovertible proof a dog was stolen. The lack of such crucial
identification, he says, could be helping criminals get away with some heinous
"Right now we've gotten several calls from animal rights activists and a
number of folks who have given us pretty good leads to follow up on," Jaskowiak
"One of the problems with the individual suspected (to be) involved in the
thefts, the problem is (police) have never found (proof of) stolen dogs at that
(suspect's) location. -- But there are other facets there we are working on
besides stolen dogs."
Jaskowiak confirmed that the operators of a former Pendleton County kennel,
which allegedly relocated to a neighboring county recently, are suspects in the
case. He refused to provide details about what other types of crimes are
being investigated relative to those individuals.
The Kentucky Post was unable to speak with the operators of that kennel.
Calls placed to the only phone listing for one of the suspects were not returned
and the business has no telephone listing. Likewise, the Kentucky Secretary of
State's Web site has no listing for the kennel or kennel operators in
A solid record of the number of dogs reported missing or stolen in Grant and
surrounding counties since August is difficult to come by.
Grant County Deputy Sheriff Chuck Dills, for instance, says investigators
there have failed to uncover any credible evidence that the handful of animals
reported missing to his agency were actually stolen.
But, Dills said in the interest of obtaining a better picture of the missing
dog problem, he has developed a new form to track reports of alleged dog
"I developed a missing animal report where if (the Grant County Animal
Warden) takes a report, it's done up in letterhead. And any report she takes, we
assign a case number, so we can track which dogs are missing and which (reports)
are unfounded," Dills said.
"We had total of four -- reports initially, and we couldn't find anything
(indicating) a theft of dog. -- We have bent over backward with these animals.
The thing that frustrates me is there are kids being abused and sometimes
animals get more attention. -- Honestly, we're taking missing animal complaints, but
-- I've gone as far as I can really go."
Grant County Animal Control Warden Wanda Bedard says many more than four
missing animal reports were made to the Grant County Sheriff's Office, as well as
other smaller departments in the county since early August. A wall in the
Williamstown shelter is covered with missing dog pictures and reward offers from
residents who believe their dogs were snatched.
Bedard counts at least 26 dogs reported stolen in the seven weeks from Aug.
11 to Sept. 26, and another nine dogs were reported taken last week alone, she
says, many in the Jonesville area. The vast majority of the missing dogs are
specific varieties of pure-bred animals, or those mixed breeds, like Scooby,
that looked like pure breeds, she says.
Bedard and Poole say most recently the targeted breeds have been those used
for hunting, especially Australian cattle dogs known as blue heelers. Reports
of missing dachshunds, Jack Russell terriers, collies and shepherds have also
been numerous, they said.
Many of the alleged victims have also provided information that points toward
alleged involvement by the same kennel operators currently in the state
police suspect pool, Bedard said. In fact, Rachael Poole said neighbors saw a
vehicle emblazoned with the kennel's name in her parents' drive just before
Poole said she and her husband visited the kennel the day before she found
Scooby dead. Though the couple said they heard their pet's characteristic howl
and saw his leg, they were not permitted to enter the barn they think he was
"First I heard him, but I didn't see him," Poole said. "Then I finally got to
see him. I saw his leg. He was chained to the (in)side of the barn. He was
digging with his leg to get out and it was all bloody. Then (the kennel
operator) said I had to leave or she'd let the pit bulls loose on me."
A handful of other dog owners have found their missing pets returned dead,
Bedard says. Other dogs have merely disappeared, with little of the typical
evidence Bedard says she sees when a pet has wandered from home or succumbed to
some other fate.
Bedard says video and audiotapes have been recorded with several individuals
who allege firsthand knowledge of the theft ring, its operators and its
Bedard said videotapes are also in safekeeping that provide evidence of
alleged dog-fighting on the kennel operators' property. She said all of these
recordings have been offered to the Grant County Sheriff's Department, though as
yet she said they have not reviewed the tapes.
Jaskowiak expressed interest in seeing the tapes, though he said the
individuals making statements would have to be willing to testify in court as well.
Likewise, he said everyone should be more vigilant about protecting their
animals and immediately reporting a missing animal to police, along with any
other suspicious activities. Catching any kind of criminal, police say, is always
a community-wide responsibility.
"It's hard to say it's not dog fighting," Jaskowiak said about possible
motives for the alleged dog thieves.
"But I think it's more a puppy mill. Maybe filling orders for breeders
looking for specific animals -- where they may take an order for an animal and go
out looking for it, and say we'll have it in a couple of weeks. --
"But most people don't immediately notify police when their dog is stolen, --
but they should give us a call. -- Just like some people think (pet) collars
and nametags are enough. But collars and tags can be cut off and thrown away,"
Jaskowiak said, emphasizing the need for pet owners to get tattoo or
microchip identification for their animals.
Bedard and Poole are hopeful that the state police interest in the case,
along with PETA's offer of reward, will stop what they see as a heartless crime
trend before it spreads.
The two women readily acknowledge that police must give the greatest
attention to the most serious crimes. But they feel those who would steal beloved
family pets have little regard for any kind of life, since they allegedly see the
dogs so many love like family members as nothing but valuable property for the
"How do you put a value on a pet dog?" Bedard asks.
Publication Date: 11-13-2003
"I would not enter on my list of friends the man who needlessly sets foot
upon a worm." - Cowper
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