Jim Elliott, director of The Center for Birds of Prey on U.S. Highway 17, came upon the scene Tuesday afternoon, then called authorities on a non-emergency line.
“Someone ... burned a dog here,” he said in the call. “It’s still burning."
“Oh, my God,” a dispatcher responded.
“It just doesn’t look like something that we ought to ignore,” Elliott added.
Elliott reported finding the animal dead after 5 p.m. Tuesday near a gate at 7120 U.S. Highway 17. He described up to six possible suspects as between 12 and 16 years old. They were black; four were boys, and two were girls, he reported.
“I saw some kids walking away as I drove up,” he said in the call.
Investigators were still working Thursday to identify the children, Watson said. The dog's owner has not been identified.
"We're not saying they're the ones responsible," Watson said. "But that's the only lead we have so far."
The dog had likely been shackled with a chain by the muzzle, body and legs before being dragged down the road and set on fire, investigators said.
Elliott described the dog as medium-size with light brown fur. It was badly burned.
Investigators could not discern its breed or sex.
“I don’t know whether it was alive when it started or not,” Elliott said in the call.
“Oh, my goodness,” the dispatcher responded.
“Pretty sad,” Elliott added.
"I completely agree."
At least $6,000 in reward money is being offered for information leading to arrests and convictions of those responsible. The Humane Society of the United States and Pet Helpers Adoption Shelter on James Island pitched in on the fund. Community members also have offered to contribute; the Sheriff's Office suggested they reach out to the Humane Society to make a donation.
To submit tips, people can call Crime Stoppers at 843-554-1111 or county animal control officers at 843-529-5319.
If the dog had been caught and chained up, it must have trusted those who captured it, Pet Helpers’ president, Carol Linville, said.
“The betrayal of trust,” she said, “is haunting.”
(Post and Courier - April 12, 2017)