Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dog carcasses found along tracks

By April Abernathy, The Herald Bulletin

Anonymous call leads to search; remains may be dogfighting-related

An anonymous phone call led volunteers on two separate searches for dog carcasses left along railroad tracks.

A group of volunteers headed by Jennifer Bridges met on Friday evening and again  on Saturday morning at the tracks near 38th Street and Martin Luther King Blvd.

Bridges, a Madison County Humane Society board member, received a message from an anonymous caller that the animals were used as dogfighting bait and were left on the tracks to die.

“We thought maybe it was someone who wanted peace of mind and knew about it,” Bridges said of the caller. “Maybe it was someone that just had some information.”

The anonymous call came after recent publicity about Bridges’ foster dog, Phoebe, who was stolen from outside Bridges’ home on Tuesday before being returned early Friday morning.

While Bridges was searching for her stolen black and white pit bull mix, she learned that the theft wasn’t isolated and that two other dogs in her neighborhood were recently stolen from their owners’ yards.

Bridges said Phoebe was returned to her yard early Friday morning.

“She’s a little skittish and aggressive,” Bridges said. “Her ears perk up and she listens to everything now like she’s on edge.”

About a minute and a half into Friday evening’s search, two carcasses were found scattered on the tracks behind Magic Glass, 2406 W. 38th St.

“There were zip ties everywhere,” Bridges said. “Sometimes, they (dogfighting rings) zip-tie the dog’s mouth and legs so it can’t fight back. There was something on the muzzle of one of the dogs like peanut butter, probably used to attract. It (the muzzle) was covered in scratches.”

Anderson police Detective Mitch Carroll said he knew that one carcass had been found and that several zip ties were collected near the body.

“From an official side, there were lots of zip ties, almost too many,” he said. “We will look into it, because it may or may not have come off the train or (been) used for cargo on the train.”

An animal control officer collected the decapitated head of one of the dogs. Its heavy-duty choker collar was left on the side of the tracks.

“That’s a collar used on a dog that’s used to being restrained,” Bridges said.

Carroll said animal control and Anderson police canvassed the area near the tracks to ask residents if they were aware of a dumping ground or if they had seen anything unusual. Residents said they hadn’t seen anything strange in the area.

“We hope people will call us or call you (The Herald Bulletin) and let us know,” Carroll said. “We will do a follow-up based on the animal control officer’s findings.”

In Pendleton in February 2010, headless animal bodies were found dumped in Fall Creek. After an investigation, the carcasses were determined to be wild coyotes.

“We are working with the Animal Protection League to follow any leads,” Carroll said. “We can’t merit this is a dump site.”

Dee Vester and her son, Evan, joined Bridges’ search efforts Saturday morning.

“It’s horrible,” Dee Vester said. “I don’t like people being mean to animals for any reason. They are our family.”

Fellow volunteer Barbie Vorhees crossed her fingers hoping that nothing would be found during her walk on the tracks.

“This is happening here in my town,” she said. “It’s horrible. It’s scary.”

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