Animal welfare advocates say it's time for law enforcement to more vigorously pursue cases of severe animal cruelty after the horrific discovery of a dog ablaze in a crate in Chester County.
Here are the details that my colleague Bill Reed reported in today's Inquirer:
A caged dog was set on fire in West Brandywine Township, Chester County, on Friday night, three months after a similar fatal attack in Coatesville.
According to a statement by the county Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Wagontown Fire Chief Todd Ziegler was driving on Manor Road about 8 p.m. Friday, when he spotted what looked like a brushfire near Route 340. He discovered the burning body of a dog in a caged crate and called his department, which put out the fire.
Details about the dog were being withheld pending a necropsy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine at the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square.
On June 9, the charred remains of a Yorkshire terrier mix between 3 and 5 years old was found in a trash bag in the 300 block of Coates Street in Coatesville. The 15- to 20-pound dog with silver, black, and blond hair had suffocated in the bag.
There's a $5,000 reward fund for information leading to an arrest and conviction in that case, SPCA spokesman Rich Britton said Saturday.
Tips about both attacks can be reported anonymously by calling the SPCA at 610-692-6113, ext. 213, or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
The latest gruesome crime is the fourth dog burning in southeast Pennsylvania this year. The other two cases occurred in Philadelphia, leaving one dog dead and another severely burned. No arrests have been made in any of the cases, despite the rewards.
Tom Hickey, a member of the state Dog Law Advisory Board, said law enforcement - and the public - needs to take these cases more seriously and he wants to enlist the support of the Pennsylvania State Police.
"The bottom line is, this is a horrible story, people read about it, feel bad, then forget about it," said Hickey. "We need to do something, perhaps focus reward money in better way. This is an indication these individuals will hurt human beings next."
Hickey said if local authorities can't or won't pursue these cases, then the state police, which has a trooper dedicated to animal crimes, should get involved.
"We have laws that say you can't do it," he said. "We need to help put an end to it because it is happening way too often and a pattern is developing that is disturbing."