News

14-year-old boy arrested for trying to hang dog; other kids save animal

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

A 14-year-old boy was charged with felony first-degree animal cruelty this week after he admitted to police he hanged a friend’s dog on Monday because he thought it was suffering.

The dog survived because it was saved by two neighborhood kids who witnessed the crime. Their grandmother called the police.

According to Federal Way Police, the dog was being cared for by the suspect’s family while the owner found accommodations. How long the dog stayed with the family was unknown, but court records state the dog’s owner is homeless.

At about 3:50 p.m. Monday, police were called to the 28700 block of 30th Avenue South, where the dog was after being rescued by two witnesses 12 and 16 years old. They told police they had seen a neighborhood boy hang the dog, a spaniel mix named Junior, from a tree.

After the suspect ran away, the older witness used a lighter to burn through material used to hang the dog, according to court documents. The witnesses told police blood was coming from the dog’s mouth and nose. The dog started to breathe after it was cut loose, and the children led it to their grandmother’s house.

The grandmother told police she had seen the suspect walk by with the dog and that he said he was going to hang it. Her grandchildren followed him because they thought he would hurt the animal.

While police were at the scene, the grandmother pointed out the suspect, who fled from but was caught.

The Mirror doesn’t name minors who are crime suspects.

At the police station, the suspect told officers he didn’t want the dog to suffer or get hit by a car like the owner’s previous dog, that he didn’t believe the owner was going to come back for the animal, and that made the suspect the owner and he could end the dog’s life.

King County Animal Services examined the dog and returned it to its owner.

The boy was released to his mother, who came to the police station, police spokeswoman Stacy Flores said.

The county juvenile detention system has a protocol for who they will hold behind bars, and the suspect didn’t qualify, she said.

Flores said having witnesses of the crime helped authorities catch the suspect.

Police and King County Animal Services officials are still looking for a suspect in another animal abuse case in Federal Way more than a month ago that resulted in the death of a pit bull puppy. The dog was found bleeding and most of its skin burned off from a caustic chemical. There were also chemical burns inside its mouth. A veterinarian euthanized the animal down because there was nothing that could be done to save it.

Deputy police chief Brian Wilson said an investigation is continuing, but he declined to go into more detail.

The crime sparked outrage locally and worldwide after Pasado’s Safe Haven, an animal welfare agency, relayed the story on its Web site. The Police Department and animal control officials came under fire for their handling of the case. A reward of $20,000 was offered by Pasado’s.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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