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Animal mutilations probed

Kitsap County law enforcement and animal protection officials are investigating a series of pet mutilation crimes that don’t appear to be related but whose severity has them concerned nonetheless.

On April 2, a Port Orchard resident found a black Labrador retriever puppy in her yard with its throat deliberately cut. The animal was walking around but was in pain and blood was everywhere.

The resident called the Humane Society, which was not able to respond immediately, and then took the dog to the closest animal hospital.

Despite a deep gash in its throat, the veterinarian was able to save the puppy, which is now in the agency’s adoption pipeline.

In mid-January, a full-grown male dog was found on Chico Way in Silverdale missing all four legs and its head. It had also been skinned, and was not immediately recognizable as a dog.

This was followed by a similar incident in Mason County.

Kitsap Deputy Scott Wilson notes there has been a string of animal-related skinnings, beheadings and disappearances, mostly occurring in Central Kitsap. With about a half dozen of such incidents reported over the past several few years, Wilson said the cases don’t amount to an epidemic.

Still, the relatively short time period between these two recent incidents is enough for authorities to take notice — even though they currently believe it’s unlikely the same person committed both recent crimes.

“They are not similar instances,” said Kitsap Animal Control supervisor Rance McEntyre. “And they happened in different areas of the county.”

The only real similarity between the two is the local and national branches of the Humane Society have pooled their resources to offer a substantial reward. In the case of the puppy, $3,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of whoever is involved.

The Sheriff’s Office has so far concluded the perpetrator(s) typically work at night and well out of sight of witnesses. But investigators have yet to develop any substantial leads or potential suspects.

The Humane Society’s national headquarters reports about 1,400 such mutilations each year, but most observers accept this estimate is conservative because it reflects only cases reported in the media. Many more cases undoubtedly go unreported.

The Humane Society reports that 76 percent of intentional cruelty cases are committed by adults, with 22 percent teenagers and 2 percent children making up the remainder.

According to the organization’s Virginia-Marie Beckett, “If you catch the deviant behavior during the formative years, you have a better chance of intervening and helping them become non-violent than if they are adults. “

These acts stun those who are supposedly inured to the worst aspects of human nature.

“This is unauthorized, bad and wrong,” Wilson said, “It is an example of aberrant behavior. We are charged with ensuring public safety, and having someone like this running around endangers the public.”

Added McEntyre, “I’ve been here 21 years so I’ve seen a lot of things, but this really crosses the line.”

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