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Over the past few weeks, several dead dogs have been discovered in plastic trash bags dumped along rural roads in Wilson County. And investigators say they are in the process of developing a person of interest in the case.
“We want to find out who this person is doing these heinous acts,” said Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard. “And we want to bring them to justice.”
Woodard told The Wilson Times he is not only investigating how the dogs are being dumped, but the circumstances on how they are being found. He said detectives are still investigating whether or not there is a link between all the incidents.
Detectives don’t believe the dogs are being killed and then dumped. They said the evidence suggests dogs are dying from natural causes, medical issues or inadequate care and their bodies are being disposed of improperly.
“Still, it’s wrong,” he said. “Whoever is dumping the dogs, it is still morally wrong in how they are being disposed of.”
Woodard said no evidence points to the animals being used as “bait dogs,” forced into dogfighting or being poisoned or intentionally killed. He said none of the dogs found showed signs of ripped fur, which is usually an indicator of dogfighting.
“There is no dog yet that we’ve seen where faces are torn,” Woodard said.
He said investigators are using technology to learn additional information.
“These dogs are dying and instead of doing what the proper thing to do is a burial, they are just getting them and putting them in a trash bag on the side of the road,” he said.
Six of the seven dogs found separately in bags were too decomposed to be sent to the state crime lab for further analysis, officials said. But one dog, found on Feb. 21 inside a black trash bag on Marie Street, was able to be sent off. The state lab report indicated the dog had been dead at least two days.
The dog, which was much older, died of natural causes, according to state officials. There was no sign of trauma, dogfighting, gunshot wounds or broken bones, Woodard said.
An eighth dead dog was found Monday on Grimsley Store Road. But this dog wasn’t found in a trash bag. Sheriff’s officials were able to send that dog to the state crime lab, which determined the dog died as a result of heartworms and malnutrition, officials said. No trauma was indicated.
$3,000 REWARD OFFERED
Once the news broke regarding the dead dumped dogs, a reward was offered. And it has grown over the past couple weeks from $250 to $3,000.
Any information leading to the arrests and conviction of those responsible for the incidents is being sought. The reward is sponsored by the Wilson County Humane Society, For the Love of Dogs, the Maggie Society and private individuals.
“We are grateful for the community support,” said Wilson County Humane Society President Kim Edmondson. She said the humane society encourages anyone with information to contact investigating authorities.
Edmondson said animal advocates want to find out what is happening in these cases and figure out how to stop the dumping. She said the multiple incidents happening within a specific time period in areas within several miles of each other is disturbing.
“That is very concerning to us,” she said. “Ultimately, all we want is for there to be a resolution and that’s why the reward was offered — to try and get someone to talk, to hopefully make an arrest and determine what’s going on. We want it to stop.”
‘CONTACT LAW ENFORCEMENT’
Woodard said if a someone does discover a dead dog, he or she should immediately contact authorities or call 911. He said time is of the essence because it could determine whether a dog can be sent to the state lab for testing.
The sheriff advises people not to touch the bags or tamper with the scene. There could be vital evidence for deputies to collect.
“Your first 48 hours of any investigation is crucial,” he said. “If you know of an incident like this, please contact law enforcement and make us aware, so we can get there immediately and follow up.”
Anyone with information regarding these incidents can contact the sheriff’s office at 252-237-2118.
DEAD DOG DISCOVERIES
On Feb. 16: Three dogs were found in separate black bags in the 4500 block of Webb Lake Road. Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard said a woman who reported the incident claimed she saw the bags on Feb. 11 and Feb. 12, according to reports and investigators. The woman didn’t check the bags until Feb. 16. These three were too decomposed to send to the state lab for a necropsy, Woodard said.
Feb. 19: One dog was found in a black trash bag in the 2300 block of Baldree Road. This dog was too decomposed to send to the state lab. After the sheriff’s office conducted its investigation, deputies contacted city sanitation to pick up the dog for disposal, which is standard practice for any dead animal found on the side of the road, officials said. The following day, Wilson County Humane Society volunteers retrieved the dog’s remains and enlisted a local veterinarian to check the dog. Animal advocates say the veterinarian determined there was evidence of trauma and the dog had been dead at least three days. “We can’t confirm that (as investigators) because we have no veterinarian report or have been privileged to know who this vet is or who did the examination of the dog,” Woodard said. “They won’t tell us.” Edmondson said advocates took the dog to a veterinarian for a quick check. She said the dog was examined on the back of a pickup truck. Edmondson said a confidentiality agreement with the veterinarian prevents animal advocates from disclosing his or her identity. She said the veterinarian did not produce a written report.
Feb. 21: A single dog was found in a black bag in the 2300 block of Marie Street. Edmondson said animal advocates took a picture of that dog and sent it to the same veterinarian, who they say told them it appeared the dog was too decomposed to perform an examination. But sheriff’s officials determined the dog wasn’t too decomposed and sent it to the state crime lab for further testing. This dog, which was older, died of natural causes, according to the state report. The Wilson Police Department was also on the scene of that incident.
Feb. 24: A dead dog was found in a clear bag in the 5800 block of Grimsley Store Road. This dog was found more than 25 feet off the roadway down a path and behind a downed telephone pole. Woodard said that dog was too badly decomposed to send off to the state crime lab for a necropsy.
Feb. 25: A dog was found in a clear bag in the 6000 block of Tower Road. The dog was too decomposed to be sent of to the state lab. A deputy who was patrolling that area due to the other recent cases, found this particular dog.
March 5: A dead dog was found in the 5200 block of Grimsley Store Road. This dog wasn’t found in a trash bag, but on the side of the road. The sheriff’s office sent the dog off to the state lab, where officials confirmed Friday the dog died as a result of heartworms and malnutrition. There was no indication of trauma to the dog, Woodard said.
Feb. 22 and March 4: Officials received two calls from the public about a possible dead dog in a bag in the 6200 block of Cattail Road in Elm City and one in the 8800 block of N.C. 42 West. Investigators went to both scenes and determined both were deer carcasses, according to the sheriff’s office.