The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office is recommending a 25-year-old man be charged with animal cruelty for allegedly covering a 7-month-old puppy's head with duct tape.
On March 2, the Whatcom Humane Society's animal control department received a call from a concerned citizen about a case of animal cruelty in the 3000 block of North Shore Road.
Animal control officers responded to the residence, along with deputies from the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, and discovered a 7-month-old male bloodhound named "Bear" in a laundry-type room. His head was covered in duct tape, he was muzzled, and he had a nylon leash around his neck that was tied to a doorknob, said Laura Clark, executive director of the Whatcom Humane Society.
The duct tape started at the neck and went all the way around Bear's head, covering his ears, eyes, face and muzzle, Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said. Only the dog's nostrils were not covered.
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The room's floor had markings believed to be a combination of mud and possible feces, Clark said.
The Sheriff's Office is sending its investigation of owner Scott Jager to the prosecutor's office, recommending a second-degree animal cruelty charge, which is a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor. The prosecutor's office expects to receive the case this week.
Jager allegedly told animal control officers that he muzzled Bear because "he chewed," Clark said, adding that Jager was uncooperative in providing any further information.
"It is not known why someone would deliberately treat a defenseless animal in such a cruel and inhumane manner," Elfo said.Jager could not be reached Tuesday for comment on this story.
Bear is now in the custody of the Whatcom Humane Society. He is doing well, although is he wary of strangers, especially men, Clark said. She did not know how long, or how many times, Bear had been left in those conditions.
After arriving at the shelter, Bear received medical treatment for abrasions to his head and for infections to his ears and eyes, Clark said.
"He also received a much needed bath and grooming as he was covered in urine and dried feces," Clark wrote in an email. "He has a sweet personality and has really bonded with our staff. He loves toys, especially plushy toys that squeak."
Bear is not yet available for adoption, she said.
Clark said she has never heard of any other cases where a dog's entire face was duct taped.
"The manner in which this dog was treated and abused is sickening," Clark said. "These types of crimes against animals should not and will not be tolerated by our organization."