Several disturbing discoveries have prompted police to tell pet owners to be on alert in Franklin County, Vermont, involving multiple dogs found tortured and killed. A $1,000 reward was offered for tips that could lead to the arrest of those responsible.
Authorities say there have been least six incidents involving dogs across neighborhoods across the county since the beginning of May this year.
Sheldon Animal Control Officer Nichole Michel told WPTZ. “I sat here for a little bit just contemplating and asking why anybody would do this.
“Plastic bags tied over their head, tossed off onto the side of the road. It’s in every case, torture,” Michel told the station.
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She said in another case, one dog was found shot dead. Its body was found tied to a tree just steps off a popular trail.
Vermont State Police are investigating the six cases. They have not commented on whether the attacks are related.
Michel says these attacks appear to be an epidemic and it is unfathomable to her.
“I really have no words for someone who could do something so heartless, so cruel,” she told the station. “Dogs are our family.”
“We add dogs to our family, we use them for protection, we should be able to let them run around our property, their home. We can’t do that anymore.”
Michel says reports have come in from different areas around Franklin County about a mystery person in a silver sedan and gold SUV, trying to lure the unsuspecting animals into their vehicles.
A $1,000 reward is being offered by the Franklin County Humane Society for any information that can help arrest the animal killers. An original offer was made of $500.
“You hear these cases of abuse and cruelty around Franklin County and everywhere and it’s so tragic when it happens,” Karen Mitchell, said Humane Society board member, told WPTZ.
Anyone with information is urged to contact State Police investigators at 802-524-5993.
Animal Cruelty in the United States
On Jan. 23, two Congressmen from Florida proposed a bipartisan bill that would make cruelty against animals a felony across the United States.
Fifty states across the United States have currently have laws that prevent cruelty against animals, however, if animals get tortured across state lines, there is little to protect them.
With the proposed bill, authorities will have federal jurisdiction to go after the culprits. They will also be able to prosecute those who engage in acts of cruelty on federal property.
According to the Humane Society, a non-profit dedicated to resolving animal welfare problems, the animals that are most often reported as abused are dogs, cats, horses and livestock.
Intentional cruelty to animals is strongly correlated with other crimes, which include violence against people. The Humane Society says that surveys have suggested that those who intentionally abuse animals are mainly men under 30.
Besides intentional cruelty there are also other forms of abuse. Hoarding animals is one such form, where a person houses far more animals than they can take care of, which results in serious animal neglect. In such cases, those responsible—often women over 60, according to surveys—may be in need of social or mental health services, the society says.
At the start of 2016, the FBI added “cruelty to animals” as a data set in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, a criminal reporting system commonly used in homicide investigations across the county.
Before 2016, crimes that involved animals had been put into an “All Other Offenses” category.
In its data collection of crime reports, the FBI divides cases of animal cruelty into four categories: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse (for example, dogfighting and cockfighting), and animal sexual abuse.
“Some studies say that cruelty to animals is a precursor to larger crime,” Nelson Ferry, from the FBI’s Criminal Statistics Management Unit, said in a release at the time.
“If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human,” said John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, said in the release. “If we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.”
At the time, Thompson urged the public to rethink the notion that animal cruelty is just a crime against animals.
“It’s a crime against society,” he said. “By paying attention to [these crimes], we are benefiting all of society.”