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No leads yet in dog abuse cases

Phoenix, an American pit bull terrier, is recovering after being assaulted recently and left for dead. He was found near Elizabeth Furnace Campground in Fort Valley on May 19 and driven to Charlottesville for emergency treatment. He is expected to recover, and the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office is looking for any information on who attacked the animal and another, a pit bull terrier puppy found in Front Royal, who died from injuries sustained. The Humane Society of the United States is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction. Courtesy HSUS (Buy photo)

By Josette Keelor

The Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office and The Humane Society of the United States said a dog found mutilated in Fort Valley on May 19 is expected to recover.

According to a report from the Humane Society, the dog, now called Phoenix, was cut severely on the neck and abdomen. Residents who found the dog in Fort Valley drove him to Charlottesville for emergency treatment. Phoenix is a young male, brown and white in color.

After issuing a release Friday from The Humane Society, sheriff's offices in Shenandoah and Warren counties are still looking for any new information on the attacks that resulted in the death of the second animal, a brown and white puppy found near Morgans Ford Bridge in Front Royal.

Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office said his office learned last Wednesday of the May 19 incident involving an injured dog found in the area of Elizabeth Furnace Campground in Fort Valley, in the 15000 block of Fort Valley Road near the Warren County line.

The Humane Society reported that later in the day, on May 19, a father and son in Front Royal found a 5-month-old puppy suffering from injuries so severe that it later had to be euthanized.

Proctor said what distinguishes last week's attacks from others he's seen is that there are no suspects.

"Most of the cases that we deal with there's a known suspect or perpetrator," he said. So far, he said, law enforcement officials in Shenandoah County have had to rely on information from the Humane Society. "That's the part that's unusual, I guess."

"It's not a widespread problem here in Shenandoah County. I don't know of any other cases that are similar to this where the injuries are severe ... in this type of fashion," he said.

Laura Donohue, who works remotely in Arlington as Virginia state director for the Humane Society's headquarters offices in Washington and in Gainsville, Md., said the level of injury Phoenix suffered made it obvious to her that one assailant held him down while another cut him.

Residents who found the animal on May 19 drove him to Charlottesville because "they just didn't know where a closer ER would be," Donohue said.

She had no information yet about whether or not the two dogs had homes before the attacks.

Donohue said she received reports of residents seeing Phoenix "kind of running at large" prior to the attack.

The puppy found in Front Royal "was very emaciated," Donohue said.

"Whoever had that animal ... was clearly not caring of that animal," she said.

Donohue said circumstances of the animals' discoveries have helped the Humane Society connect the two crimes. She was working on the press release about Phoenix last week when she learned of the puppy found in Front Royal.

"And Warren County knew the staff in Charlottesville," she said. The two crimes, "27 miles apart, four hours apart," she said, might not have been connected if not for the community's effort so far in trying to save the two animals.

Since there are no leads, Proctor said his office needs the community's help.

"They're crimes, so they're prosecuted," he said. "An animal cruelty charge is very similar to, like, an assault charge."

Donohue said crimes against animals often connect with cases of abuse against people. She said a three-year study completed in 2004 found "65 percent of individuals that have been charged with crimes against animals have been arrested for battery against another person."

"They start with the most defenseless victims," Donohue said. "Children and animals."

Proctor agreed, "There is a connection there."

The Humane Society has posted a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attacks.

When asked about the condition of Phoenix, Donohue's tone changed.

"Oh, he's doing great, he's doing really well," she said. "That dog will never suffer again."

Despite what he endured, "This dog has just learned to trust the vets at the clinic," she said.

"[It] just always reminds me how resilient and how forgiving these animals are."

"There are so many people at the clinic who are in love with him," she said. "He's going to have a good home."

Anyone with information about either of the two attacks should call the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office at 540-459-6100 or the Warren County Sheriff's Office at 540-635-4128.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com


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