By Darla Shelden
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s office is asking for the public’s help in finding the person or persons who threw a German shepherd dog off a bridge onto an interstate highway in Oklahoma City, severely injuring him.
The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. The HSUS recently doubled its standard cruelty reward from $2,500 to $5,000 thanks to a generous donation from HSUS board member Cathy Kangas and her husband Ed Kangas of New Canaan, Connecticut.
Animal cruelty is a felony in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said, “Dogs are “man’s best friend” and are dependent upon humans for food, shelter and care. In return they provide unquestioned companionship and love. For someone to throw Rookie off of a bridge is unconscionable and the sign of an inherently evil person. We are doing everything possible to find the person responsible so that person can answer in a court of law.”
“Now Barry and Becky Switzer have added $1000 to that reward,” said Whetsel. “Also Max Fairchild and the AutoMax Dealership are committing at least $1,500.00 to bring the reward total to at least $7,500. I would encourage anyone with any information on the person responsible to contact the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office at 405-869-2501.”
On Wednesday, Dec. 5, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol regarding an eyewitness report that a German shepherd was thrown from a bridge on S.E. 59th Street into traffic on I-40. The female 911 caller who saw the crime has not been identified.
The dog, identified through a tag on his collar as Rookie, was in critical condition with several injuries, including an open fracture on his rear left leg. He was suffering from internal bleeding.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper of 15 years, Jennifer Fisher was the first to respond to the scene. “He was sitting up on the shoulder, but his leg was broken,” said Fisher. “He got up and came right towards me.”
An Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office Animal Welfare deputy transported Rookie to the Deer Creek Animal Hospital in Harrah. After seeing the extent of his injuries, he was transferred to the Oklahoma State University School of Veterinary Medicine.
On Tuesday, Dec. 11, OSU Veterinary Clinic’s Dr. Mark Rachot performed surgery on Rookie. The Humane Society of the United States is covering the cost of Rookie’s veterinary expenses.
“They’re putting plates and metal pins in his left leg where the bone is shattered,” said Fisher. “He’ll have a permanent rod in his leg, but he should be able to walk after rehab and physical therapy.
Trooper Fisher has adopted the 4-year-old dog and he will join her family when he’s released from the hospital.
“If everything goes well with his surgery and we can get him to eat, and off of the intravenous meds and onto oral meds, they said he can come home probably by this weekend or Monday,” said Fisher. ”We actually have two other dogs and a cat at the house right now,” said Fisher. “Our neighbor’s dogs seem to like our house and they stay there all the time too. We have neighborhood parties for animals.”
The case has received serious attention of law enforcement, prosecutors and the community due to its cruelty. It’s an important step in protecting the community. The connection between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented.
“What the public needs to understand about this story is the correlation between abuse to animals and abuse to humans,” said Christy Counts, Director of Central Oklahoma Humane Society. “The person that threw this poor dog off the bridge most certainly will display violence to another person if they have not already. Even non-animal lovers should support finding and prosecuting this person under the full extent of the law in order to protect our community.”
The HSUS Animal Cruelty Campaign raises public awareness about the connection between animal cruelty and human violence while providing a variety of resources to law enforcement agencies, social work professionals, educators, legislators and families.
“Throwing a dog off a bridge into certain death is horribly cruel and also a serious crime in Oklahoma,” said Cynthia Armstrong, The HSUS’ Oklahoma state director. “We hope our reward helps find the person or persons who committed this despicable act.”
Trooper Fisher added, “I want to thank the Humane Society of the United States, Deer Creek Animal Hospital, the OSU Vet School and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department for all their help, and everybody for their prayers for Rookie.”
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office at (405) 869-2501.