Editor’s Note: This is one more reason never to leave your dogs outside, people!
On Dec. 8, Cheryl Alt of Hebron, IN, put the family dog in the backyard, attached to a long chain that was tied around a cherry tree. About an hour later, when she went to give the dog a treat, she made a shocking discovery.
Pearl was rolling around in her neighbor’s yard, in obvious pain. Her head was caught in a animal trap. Cheryl was unable to remove the trap from the dog’s head. She called 911. Pearl was bleeding from her mouth. The one-year-old dog suffocated and died in her arms.
“I can’t get the image out of my head,” Alt said to CBS Chicago. “People comfort me, and they comfort the kids, but every time they mention it, that image comes back into my head, and I just wish I could have stopped that dog’s pain.”
“When I got closer, I saw it. It was that hideous trap, like a torture device,” she said, according to the Post-Tribune.
Police say the trap was set in the yard deliberately, and they suspect that whoever did it wanted to make sure it would work.
“A trap like that, you’d have to put some kind of bait on it to get the animal to come to it,” said Hebron Police Officer Casey Robinson. “Whoever set the trap out had to have baited it, and more than likely unchained the dog so that when it did snap on its head, it took off running.”
Police don’t have a suspect yet, but they do have leads. According to Police Chief Steven Sibbrell, a unknown person left copies of the town’s old animal nuisance ordinance on the cars and homes of at least five residents of Hebron between Thursday and Friday. One of those houses was Cheryl Alt’s. The ordinance was left after the dog was killed, and it chilled her to the bone.
The police chief also discovered one on his car. On the ordinance, the part about barking was circled with the words “know the law!” handwritten on it, along with an expletive.
According to the Post-Tribune, police had come to the Alt home twice in the past because people complained about the dog’s barking.
“Is he sending a message — keep your dogs quiet or I’ll do the same thing?” Sibbrell wondered. “I think it is the same person but I don’t know for sure until we catch the person.”
Sibbrell says the perpetrator faces animal cruelty charges, plus further charges of intimidation and provocation associated with leaving the ordinance.
Rewards are being offered for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the person responsible for killing Pearl. A reward fund has been set up at the local DeMotte State Bank. The Humane Society of the United States is offering $5,000. The Animal League Defense Fund is offering $1,000.
“Such callous disregard for the suffering of animals, and for the law, is a dangerous indicator of recklessness and cruelty,” ALDF executive director Stephen Wells said on the agency’s website.
“It’s comforting to my kids that people are concerned,” Alt said. “It buffers the fact that a scary person came into our yard and killed our dog.”