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Reward Offered in Mercer County Puppy Deaths

The Humane Society of the United States 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 in Princeton, W.V.

The Case: News reports give the following account: On Friday, April 26, a property owner in the Grassy Branch area of Mercer County saw bags being thrown from a vehicle. Upon noticing an odor coming from the bags, the resident called 911.

Animal control officer Elizabeth Morehead reported to the scene on April 28 and found at least 10 decomposing pit bull-type puppies, estimated to be about 6 months old, stuffed into bags. The property owners were able to provide a description of the vehicle the dogs were dumped from, but they did not get a tag number. The investigation into these crimes is now being carried out by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department in conjunction with Mercer County animal control officers.

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

Animal Cruelty: Getting the serious attention of law enforcement, prosecutors and the community in cases involving allegations of cruelty to animals is an essential step in protecting the community. The connection between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented. Studies show a correlation between animal cruelty and all manner of other crimes, from narcotics and firearms violations to battery and sexual assault.

“The killing of these puppies is a despicable crime, and we are thankful that the authorities are investigating,” said Summer Wyatt, The HSUS’ West Virginia state director. “We hope that this reward will bring forward anyone with information about this heinous act of cruelty.”

The Investigators: Animal control officer Tracey Monninger is investigating. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 304-487-8364.

Resources: The HSUS Animal Cruelty Campaign raises public awareness and educates communities about the connection between animal cruelty and human violence while providing a variety of resources to law enforcement agencies, social work professionals, educators, legislators and families. The HSUS offers rewards in animal cruelty cases across the country and works to strengthen laws against animal cruelty. The HSUS recently doubled its standard cruelty reward from $2,500 to $5,000 thanks to a generous donation from HSUS board member Cathy Kangas and her husband Ed Kangas of New Canaan, Conn. To see information on statistics, trends, laws and animal cruelty categories, click here.  

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org