Why did shelter burglars bash puppies to death?

MERLIN, Ore. — Six times in 2008, dog owners have broken into the Josephine County animal shelter to retrieve their animals without having to pay fees or fines.

So, it didn’t much surprise county officials when they found that the last burglars, on Friday, were after a chocolate Labrador mixed-breed dog that one of them owned.

What’s puzzling is why the three went on to cut kennel fences and liberate 11 animals, then bash the heads of four puppies and lay them in an orderly fashion in the middle of a nearby road.

“It’s still baffling,” said Animal Control Supervisor Brad Tally.

Two young men were arrested, and a teenage girl is being sought, sheriff’s deputies said.

The community has rallied round an institution whose budget has shriveled — like many public agencies in Southern Oregon hit by cutbacks in federal aid to timber-dependent counties.

Public Health Director Belle Shepherd told the Grants Pass Daily Courier the animal control agency had a $478,000 budget two years ago, and now it is $271,000.

Kim Wilson, a former veterinary technician and owner of pet-sitting business, raised more than $500 in cash donations and called an alarm business to get estimates for a better security system.

Other than the perimeter fence and a brick wall that can easily be scaled, the shelter has only locks to protect the animals inside, Shepherd said.

“Something like this should never have happened,” Wilson said. “I just wanted to help.”

The Merlin Moose Lodge and a local store set up a bank fund that raised $1,500 and individuals have showed up at the shelter offering cash.

Sheriff’s deputies say three of the pups were from a litter of border collie-Lab mixes and the fourth was a merle heeler-collie mix from an abandoned litter. Sheriff Gil Gilbertson said they were laid in a carefully spaced pattern down the center of the 700 block of Pleasant Valley Road in Merlin.

The other dogs have been recovered, except one thought to be with the teenage girl. The chocolate Lab is back at the shelter.

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