What would allow a West Virginian who adopted a dog from a no-kill animal shelter to have that dog shot and killed?
13 News found shelter managers fighting for justice, a dispute over the dog’s temperament, and a county prosecutor whose decision goes against what he knows happened.
Sara Dempsey said, “Bernie was executed.”
Cabell County‘s Little Victories Animal Shelter director went through the usual, meticulous background check she does with everyone who wants to adopt a pet.
Little Victories is a no kill shelter.
In October, they adopted out a pug mix named Bernie to Amie Bowling of Hurricane.
But in November, the shelter found out that Bernie had been shot and killed at the owner’s request.
We asked neighbor Sam Rife how he shot the dog, “Just right back there in your woods, huh? Yes. Rifle or pistol? Pistol”.
Dog Owner Amie Bowling had only these words, “I adopted it but I didn’t do anything to it. My neighbor did, and now sir, please go.”
Shelter Director Sara Dempsey told 13 News, “Bernie was a little defenseless, sweet fun loving dog. Just four days before this happened; we were told that everything was going great.”
Sam Rife added, “It was a mean little dog. It bit both her boys and bit me too. Q: So, You took it into the woods and shot it? A: Yes.”
Bowling’s next door neighbor, Dreama Fain told us Bernie was sweet, gentle and often fled to her home for food, affection and to escape cruelty.
Fain said, “I’ve seen her and her boyfriend hit on their animals. Q: Was he a vicious dog? A: No, No He played with my granddaughter. “
Sam Rife also told us Bowling had trouble keeping dogs in her yard and she should have taken the dog back to the shelter.
Rife said that was not an adoptable dog.
Bowling had signed a contract with Little Victories, agreeing that if there was any problem, she would return the dog.
Sara Dempsey: We would rather take them back, do all we can to readopt and find a loving home.
Fain, Dempsey and others called for criminal charges for abuse of an animal.
When Hurricane Police conducted their investigation, Amie bowling and Sam Rife were the only two interviewed,
Police determined the dog was a vicious biter and turned the case over to the Putnam County prosecutor Mark Sorsacia.
The prosecutor told 13 News its commonplace in West Virginia for people to shoot dogs considered vicious
He did not believe this was a malicious killing, which would qualify it as a felony,
Sorsacia said even though he does not like or approve of what happened, this case is not prosecutable in this state.
Little Victories will soon begin a social media campaign, to share Bernie’s story,
Little Victories says it is heartbroken over the county’s legal response to what they see as a clear case of animal cruelty.
The prosecutor said little victories could file a civil suit in this case.
The no kill animal shelter says it is leaving that door open for now.