Reward offered in burned-dog case

Posted: June 11, 2012

A Chester County resident and animal advocate is offering a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of whoever set a dog afire early Saturday in Coatesville and left it to die.

The animal, a Yorkshire terrier mix between three and five years old, was found by firefighters who responded to what they thought was a trash fire at 2:37 a.m. in the 300 block of Coates Street.

The 15 to 20-pound dog with silver, black and blonde fur was in a trash bag.

It was dead at the scene, said Rich Britton, spokesman for the Chester County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Rescue workers took the remains to the SPCA shelter in West Chester for examination. A necropsy is planned for Monday at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School of Medicine's New Bolton Center. The results are expected by Tuesday, Britton said.

Thomas G. Hickey, Sr., founder of SavingPuppies.com animal advocacy group and a member of the Governor's Dog Law Advisory Board, said he was dismayed to learn of the case of animal cruelty from news reports on Sunday morning.

He put up the reward money, he said, in the hope that others would do the same.

"I'm hoping if we get enough money, somebody in Coatesville will say, for that amount of money I'll make a call," Hickey said. "The only way it stops, is if someone gets arrested, and we deal with it as a crime."

Britton said the Chester County SPCA has "zero tolerance" for cruelty to animals.

"This appears to be abhorrent behavior to an innocent life, a young animal that is sweet and defenseless, and that is being taken advantage of in the worst of ways," he said.

Britton said Coateville police detectives and animal investigators were keeping details of the dog's death out of the public eye until they can say definitively what happened. He did confirm, however, that a woman came forward and said the dog might be hers.

Coatesville resident Aigner Brown said her terrier went missing Friday. She could not be reached for comment Sunday because her phone mailbox was full.

In Pennsylvania, cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor. If convicted, the perpetrator could be sentenced to two years in jail and a $1,000 fine, or both, Britton said. A psychiatric evaluation is also required.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com. Read her blog MontCo Memo at www.philly.com.

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