Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dog buried alive suffered from long-term neglect, vet says

OREGON -- A dog that was buried alive suffered from long-term neglect, but showed no obvious signs of the cancer its Forest Grove owners cited as the reason they tried to "euthanize" the animal, authorities said today.

Susan Johnson and her father Hyrum Long
The owners -- Hyrum Long, 75, and his daughter, Susan Johnson, 50, -- were arrested Monday night on animal abuse charges. They were held overnight in the Washington County Jail and released on their own recognizance this morning, said Sgt. David Thompson, spokesman for the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

"I done a bad thing and I will take responsibility for it," Long said at his house today. "I want to apologize to people."

[Does he want to apologize to the dog?]

One news channel blurred the photos

The horrific reality

Forest Grove police were called to Long's home in the 2200 block of Laurel Street on Friday afternoon after neighbors reported hearing a dog howling, said Capt. Aaron Ashbaugh, spokesman for the Forest Grove Police Department.

Police found Molly, a badly injured yellow Labrador mix, partly buried in Long's backyard.

Ashbaugh said the animal's head was sticking out of the ground.

A large cushion and a log was placed over the animal, but was later removed by neighbors who called police.

Long and Johnson returned home and told police they had struck the dog in the head with a hammer in what they thought was a thrifty way to euthanize it. Long and Johnson told police they thought the dog was dead when they buried it in the yard and went out to dinner.

[Another article says "Long and Johnson dug a hole and buried Molly up to her neck in the yard in what they later said was an attempt to keep blood from getting everywhere.  They then put a pillow under their dog’s head and hit her repeatedly in the head with a hammer.  Then Long and Johnson piled a log over Molly’s face and went out to dinner."

They didn't have enough money to pay for a vet to put the dog down, but they DID have money to go out and enjoy a nice dinner after beating their dog in the head with a hammer.]

 The dog was taken to the Oregon Humane Society for emergency treatment, but was euthanized because of its head injury, said David Lytle, a Humane Society spokesman.

Humane Society spokesperson Barbara Baugnon told the press that Molly “couldn’t lift her head but her eyes were following people around the room, obviously she was suffering. It’s one of the worst cases I've ever heard of.”

Long told police he tried to put the dog down because he believed she had cancer. A spokesman for the Oregon Human Society said Dr. Kris Otteman, examined the dog's body after it was euthanized and found no obvious sign of the disease. However, the vet said tests would be needed to make sure.

Molly, during happier times

"She was suffering an extreme case of long-term neglect," Otteman said, adding that Molly also had evidence of "a long-term lack of nutrition."

Police said earlier that veterinarians believed Molly hadn't eaten for days prior to her death because her stomach was empty. When she was examined at necropsy, Molly weighed 56 pounds. Dogs her size typically weigh between 70 and 90 pounds when they are fit, said Lytle.

Lytle said the dog also had "a terrible skin condition - a loss of hair all over its body."

(The Oregonian - June 14, 2010)