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July 16, 2008 2:47 pm

Pet group wants attention

Written by Tribune Staff

Mutilated dogs draw concern
Several gruesome dog deaths have a local pet protection group on high alert.
Three members of a Park County group called Stop Taking Our Pets (S.T.O.P.) appeared before county commissioners on Tuesday asking for some help.
Since the beginning of April, a handful of dogs have been found shot, gutted, halved, and even skinned in the county.
It is unknown if the killings are connected, or why they are happening.
S.T.O.P. wants people to keep their eyes open, and they asked if commissioners could pass that message along to county employees.
“We just want your workers to be on the lookout,” said member Debbie Brown.
S.T.O.P. formed in late March over concerns of disappearing dogs. The group originally feared dogs were being stolen for fighting.
Now, it believes a sick individual is mutilating them.
This spring, a skinned dog carcass was found with its paws cut off at Newton Campground along the Shoshone River's North Fork.
Park County Sheriff Scott Steward, who attended the group's meeting with commissioners, called the case disturbing.
He said it's possible someone was trying to mess with the Game and Fish Department — trying to make the dog look like a dead wolf or coyote.
He said it could also be possible — if unusual — that an owner had their pet taxidermied.
“We'll never know until we find the person who did it,” he said. “You can only guess a million ways as to what their intent was.”
In a separate incident, a South Fork resident received an anonymous call, telling her that her dog was in a nearby bone pit. She found it in a garbage bag.
Steward said his office is tracing that call, and should find the source in the next week or so.
The S.T.O.P. members said a half a dog was found on a motocross track on Diamond Basin Road. A different carcass a few miles away appeared to have been stoned death, the group said.
In general, Steward said, people must be more careful with their pets.
“The big thing we're looking at is the big number of dogs running in the county,” he said.
Steward said his office received around 1,000 reports of dogs at large in 2007.
“People need to keep their dogs at home,” he said.
Stray dogs — especially those harrassing livestock — can make an easy target.
Steward said there nine reported dog deaths last year. Two of those cases were unsolved: one was a hit and run, and the other was a body found at the county landfill.
S.T.O.P. member K.T. Irwin said it's crucial that community members come forward if they see a dead dog or something that “doesn't feel right.”
“We understand that law enforcement can't do anything unless someone sees something,” she said.
Both S.T.O.P. and Steward stressed that the sheriff's office must be contacted first.
“The dogs that are coming up [dead] are just not being reported [missing] to us,” Steward said.
S.T.O.P. said dispatchers can not take dog disappearances lightly.
“Obviously, people are more important, but this is serious,” Brown said. “I'm really concerned that this person is going to move on to people.”
Brown said community awareness should help catch whoever is responsible.
"We just need more attention,” she said.
Commission Chairman Tim French agreed.
“Hopefully the public can us bust them,” he said.
For non-emergencies, county dispatchers can be reached at 754-8700.
S.T.O.P. can be contacted at 307-250-2027 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .