Chubbs was given away through a Craigslist ad.
The new owners say their pet boxers have become friendly members of their families. But both owners said they were unaware when they got them that the dogs had been connected to a gruesome attack several months earlier.
Christian County Sheriff's Office investigation documents reveal the two boxer dogs were linked by DNA analysis to the fatal mauling of an elderly Rogersville man in late 2015.
The new owners say they were surprised when investigators contacted them and sought permission to swab the dogs' mouths for saliva to get a DNA sample as part of their probe into what killed rural Rogersville resident Werner Vogt.
More than a year after Vogt died, the sheriff's investigation into his death remains open.
"Otto" arrived at the Polk County Humane Society on Feb. 9, 2016, nearly three months after Vogt was savagely attacked while riding his bicycle near his family's home. Olen Asby said he at first didn't notice the brindle boxer back in one of the pens, but quickly made a connection with the dog.
"I hated the name Otto," said Asby, who lives in rural Halfway north of Pleasant Hope. "He didn't seem like an Otto, so I named him Bubba."
Olen lives with his parents, Wayne and Carla Asby, who said they found Bubba to be a gentle and friendly companion inside their house.
"He'll come up with me and sit on the couch," Wayne Asby said. "Eighty percent of the time he'll lay right there at the top of the stairs and watch the windows, waiting for Olen to get back here. From the day we got him, he hasn't made any attempt at biting somebody or attacking anything."
Carla Asby said she was shocked when a sheriff's investigator called out of the blue three months after Bubba had been adopted, asking permission to get a saliva sample.
"He said there's a case in Christian County involving a dog attack," she recalled. "Oh my goodness. I remembered hearing about that. Why would they think Bubba was involved in that? You're thinking 'our dog might have killed someone.' Your mind goes crazy trying to process that."
They consented to the test, still not believing Bubba could have been involved. Asked whether she was worried Bubba might pose a danger to her family or young relatives, Carla Asby said "no."
"He's a love bug. That's what he is."
According to sheriff's investigators, the DNA swab from Otto, now called Bubba, came back with genetic markers that were a perfect match with dog saliva found on Werner Vogt's clothing.
Carla Asby said there was no indication in an adoption document provided by the man who left Bubba at the humane society that the dog might have been involved with the Vogt attack.
In the information she received during the adoption process, Carla Asby said the man who left the dog there described the boxer as a "couch potato" that was scared of cars and people, but didn't give any real reason why he was giving up the dog.
Jessie Shepardson, director of the Polk County Humane Society, looked up the initial paperwork that was provided by the man who dropped off the dog. She said there were "no red flags" that arose during the transaction. On a standard form about the dog that asks whether the dog had bitten anyone within the past 10 days, the man marked "No."
The owner purposely lied:
"Joseph told me at the time this occurred he owned four boxers, Chubs, Otto, Hugo & Bruno," Elliott wrote in his report. "Joseph said the dogs that were running loose at the time of the attack were Chubs, Otto and Hugo.
"Joseph said since the attack, concerned that his dogs could have been responsible, he got rid of Chubs and Otto. It seemed to me that Joseph believed his dogs were likely responsible, and told me he just couldn't allow himself to keep the dogs, especially since he has a little boy."
She also recalled that the man noted the dog "doesn't do well with little kids — he knocks them down — and would do well with a family where there were adults only and no kids." There was no mention of the fatal attack involving Werner Vogt in any of the paperwork that was filed by the man who brought the dog in, she said.
The Asbys' rural residence, surrounded by cow pastures with few homes nearby, isn't fenced, and the family said Bubba mostly stays indoors but is allowed outside without a leash to run with the family's large outdoors dog named Billy.
"He just stays around the area," Olen Asby said, of Bubba. "He doesn't get off the land at any point. He always comes back."
Olen said his biggest fear is that because of the incident involving Werner Vogt, he might be forced to give Bubba to the authorities.
"I would be broken in half, and mad because they did instead of just letting him be, you know," he said.
The Asbys acknowledged they were warned about Bubba's past by the investigator who took the DNA sample.
"He said, 'I will tell you if he bites someone and causes major problems it would come back on you'," Carla Asby recalled.
Dan Kilmer, who lives west of Springfield, said he got a similar warning when investigators came to take a DNA swab from the boxer dog he got through a Craigslist ad.
Like the Asbys, Kilmer had his new boxer dog, named Chubbs, for several months before he was contacted by the Christian County Sheriff's Office seeking a saliva sample from his family's new pet.
"We were looking for a boxer because we used to raise them," said Kilmer, who lives in a rural subdivision west of Springfield. "The owner wanted to meet us at a neutral place so we met her at a pet store on Republic Road. Chubbs seemed like a good dog."
The Craigslist ad listed the dog for $100, which Kilmer said he was happy to pay, but the owner decided just to give the dog to him, with no payment at all.
Anyone else think the reason he unloaded these dogs is because he KNEW or SUSPECTED that it was his dogs that had attacked and killed his neighbor??
Chubbs has turned out to be a friendly member of the family, Kilmer said, and has caused no problems.
But when his wife got a call from investigators seeking a DNA sample from Chubbs, Kilmer became concerned. He had seen media reports about the fatal animal attack involving Werner Vogt and soon learned from the DNA testing that Chubbs was linked to the incident.
Because Chubbs has been such a good family pet, Kilmer said he has no plans to get rid of him. But Kilmer also said he would not have taken the dog had he known Chubbs was connected to Vogt's death.
Chubbs is contained behind a tall metal fence and is never allowed to run free, Kilmer said.
"He's either in the house or in the fenced yard," he said. "He's very well natured, one of the best dogs I've ever had."
Polk County and Greene County sheriff's offices have been alerted to the location of both dogs, according to a Christian County Sheriff's Office investigative report. Like the Asbys, Kilmer said investigators warned him about possible consequences if Chubbs were to bite somebody.
"They said if something happens I could be brought up on felony charges myself, because now I know about him," he said.
Despite that, Kilmer said he still has no plans to get rid of Chubbs.
"I've got nieces and nephews who come out here all the time and there's been no problem," he said. "He's not shown any aggression and has never been rough with anyone."
(News leader - March 11, 2017)
Dogsbite.org has a very thorough breakdown of how this case was seemingly bungled. How does it take 2 years to get DNA results? Why didn't they seize the dogs when they suspected them? The owner suspected the dogs were involved in the death of his neighbor, but still pawned the dogs off to the shelter and someone on craigslist without ever telling them his suspicions. Now it doesn't appear that the police intend to seize and destroy the dogs either.