A RECENT CRUELTY TO ANIMALS INVESTIGATION DETERMINED TO BE UNFOUNDED; DOGS RETURNED TO RIGHTFUL OWNER
Press Release From The Greene County Sheriff’s Office:
In late April, two dogs were found roaming the countryside unattended. Both dogs appeared to be in poor health and underfed. Social media posts looking for the dogs had been made by the owner of the dogs prior to them being located. The dogs were located by a Greene County resident who then notified a local woman who claims to run an animal shelter in Paragould. The dogs were taken in by her, and she contacted the Greene County Sheriff’s Office to report that the dogs were victims of animal cruelty.
During the investigation, it was learned that the dog owner’s family had been victims of a house fire and had to relocate to a hotel for a couple of months. Not being able to take the dogs with them, their only option was for a family member to keep them at their residence temporarily. The dogs had to be on leads when outside, as their temporary accommodations did not have a fenced in yard. The dogs broke their leads and went missing. The dog owner and other family members repeatedly looked for the dogs but were unable to locate them. The dogs had been running together for approximately three weeks to a month by the time the resident had located them and contacted the referenced animal shelter proprietor.
The owner of the dogs supplied proof of ownership, including veterinary bills and proof of rabies vaccinations to investigators. The owner of the dogs also spoke with the animal shelter proprietor regarding getting the dogs back from her and was denied access to the dogs until financial obligations were met. The animal shelter proprietor was advised by investigators that while the dogs were underweight and in less-than-optimal health, there were no indications that the dogs were purposely tortured, mistreated, or neglected, and that the dogs needed to be returned to the rightful owner. She was advised by investigators that she could pursue civil action against the dog owner to recoup any financial loss she incurred from taking care of the dogs, as court ordered restitution would not be an option due to no criminal charges being filed in this case. It should be noted that the dog owner offered to take care of any vet bills associated with her dogs. The animal shelter proprietor also refused multiple requests from investigators to return the dogs to the owner, and even stated to the dog owner that since there would be no criminal case filed, the dogs could be put out for adoption. Fearing that the dogs would be gone forever, and very quickly, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division acquired a search warrant for the alleged animal shelter located at a residence on Case Street in Paragould. The scope of the search was limited to seizing the two dogs in question, and nothing more. Early this morning, the search warrant was executed, and the dogs were seized from a kennel located in the back yard. Shortly after, the dogs were transported and were reunited with their rightful owners in what can be described as a very happy moment for the owners and the dogs.
As law enforcement officers, our job is to protect those that cannot protect themselves. We take that job very seriously, no matter if they have two legs, or four. Due to a series of unfortunate events, these dogs ended up far from home, lost and hungry. Thankfully, a kind citizen located them and did what she felt was best for the dogs and contacted a person she trusted to help them. Also thankfully, the animal shelter proprietor provided health care and food to the dogs in order to get them back to a healthy state. I believe that I can speak for the dog owner in saying that she too is thankful for both persons in that regard. As a department, we are committed to ensuring that our four-legged residents are looked after and taken care of. In fact, the two investigators assigned to this case are probably two of the biggest animal lovers known in our law enforcement circle. They advocate for animals on a daily basis. However, we cannot and will not make a criminal case out of something if the evidence and facts of the case do not support it. Common sense has to prevail. There will be no criminal charges filed in this case, and any financial disagreements that cannot be worked out between the dog owner and shelter proprietor can be handled through civil litigation.
The dogs are back home with their owners, happy and healthy and safe in a fenced in yard. The citizen that originally found the dogs, the animal shelter proprietor, and my investigators were each a part of that in their own way. At the end of the day, that’s what the end result of animal advocacy looks like to me.