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Reward Offered in Bay County, Michigan, Therapy Dog Shooting

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 shooting a therapy dog in Bangor Township, Michigan in early April. The Humane Society of Bay County has already offered a reward of $1,000 in the case, bringing the total offer to $6,000.

The Case: News reports give the following account: In early April 2015, Bryce Sturtz and his therapy dog Whitey, a white Labrador retriever, were helping friend Blanca Gonzales move from her home in the 3300 block of North Euclid Avenue in Bangor Township. Sturtz heard a gunshot outside and then realized Whitey, who had been running around the yard, had disappeared. Sturtz and Gonzales searched the area and unable to find him they returned to her home. Later that evening Whitey appeared at Gonzales’ bleeding and in pain.

Carrollton Township veterinarian Dr. Jodie Spencer performed emergency surgery on Whitey after noticing an entrance wound in his left shoulder causing significant swelling and pain. X-rays revealed the damage was caused by a gunshot wound. Whitey is now recovering, but bone fragments remain in his shoulder that may lead to additional surgery, chronic pain and possibly amputation.

Whitey’s injuries also inflicted a significant toll on the human he provides emotional support for. “I don't go anywhere without him,” Sturtz told reporters after the shooting.

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.

Jill Fritz, Michigan senior state director for The HSUS, said: “A person who would deliberately shoot this sweet dog, who provides so much comfort and support to his owner, is a danger to the community at large. We are hopeful that this reward will bring forward anyone with information and help investigators find the person responsible for this heinous crime."

The Investigators: The Michigan State Police Tri-City Post is investigating the case. Anyone with information is asked to contact the post at (989) 495-5555.

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 National Sheriffs’ Association and The HSUS recently launched ICE BlackBox, a free smartphone tool, to allow users to record video of illegal animal cruelty and share it securely with law enforcement for possible investigation and prosecution. 

The HSUS recently doubled its standard cruelty reward from $2,500 to $5,000 thanks to a generous donation from an HSUS board member. To see information on statistics, trends, laws and animal cruelty categories, click here.  

Media Contact: Heather Sullivan; 301.548.7778; hsullivan@humanesociety.org

Donate now to support the work of our Animal Cruelty and Fighting campaign»