JEROME • Four dogs fought in cages at the Jerome animal shelter last month until they were so severely injured that they had to be euthanized, police report.
Rumors about the dogs spurred a police investigation. A Facebook post, apparently written by a city employee, claimed that two “Jerome County cops” picked up two dogs that were running along a county road, brought them to the shelter and placed each dog in a cage where a pit bull was housed.
In the morning, the post says, a shelter employee discovered the two strays dead in the cages.
“I don’t think it happened the way the Facebook post indicated,” Police Chief Dan Hall said Friday.
Sometime around Sept. 22, two dogs fought with two other dogs, said to be pit bulls, resulting in severe wounds to all four, Hall said.
All four dogs were euthanized, the chief said. He did not know the breeds of the other two dogs.
Hall said he had no reason to believe either Jerome County sheriff’s deputies or city police brought the dogs to the shelter, but he didn’t want to speculate until the investigation is complete.
“There’s a lot of things I don’t have answers for,” he said.
The investigation began Wednesday after the sheriff’s office became aware of the Facebook post.
Because the police department oversees the shelter, an unidentified outside agency is conducting the probe, Hall said.
Sheriff Doug McFall said he and Capt. Jack Johnson, the county’s chief deputy, are deeply concerned about the post’s allegations.
Johnson said he investigated and could find no dog calls for any deputies during the time the incident was said to have occurred.
Neither agency recorded bringing dogs to the shelter, said police Capt. Tim Green, who initially was investigating the case.
Sheriff’s deputies don’t have access to the shelter, McFall said, so if they bring an animal in, they must contact a police officer to open the shelter for them, he said.
Shelter staff and volunteers were not authorized to comment on the incident.
Hall said shelter animals have been injured before, but never this badly.
“On an average day the shelter has anywhere from 15 to 20-some dogs in it,” he said. “Some of them aren’t going to get along as well as they should.“
If a dog is known to be aggressive, it’s kept isolated, he said. But the shelter isn’t big enough to cage every dog separately.
“There’s no doubt we could use more space,” he said.
Hall said he was disappointed about what happened.
“I want to get the the bottom of this as much as anyone.”