Within 24 hours of the news that a brutally abused pit bull had been found in Quincy, the donations were pouring in. Within days, thousands of dollars had been raised.
The search continues for the dog’s abuser as Quincy police follow up tips that may lead to the person who tortured the animal so severely that it had to be put down.
As the reward money keeps piling up, and the phones keep ringing, it is clear that although the dog is gone, it is anything but forgotten.
“It’s not surprising people care so much,” said Ami Bowen, director of communications for the Animal Rescue League of Boston. “It’s just such an awful story. It’s heartening to know people care.”
Two detectives from the Quincy Police Department have been assigned to the case.
“We’ve had a number of different leads,” said Lieutenant John Steele. “Some have been local, some out of state. We’ve followed all of them up. It’s still an active investigation.”
The emaciated dog was found near a Quincy park on Aug. 31, one eye stabbed, its brown nose rife with burns, multiple skull fractures showing red dots on her white-and-brindled head. The dog’s tongue had been split like a serpent’s, its limbs pulled from their joints, and it weighed half what it should have, for being one to two years old.
Veterinary experts at the rescue league who treated the dog said her injuries point to prolonged and intentional torture, one of the worst cases of animal abuse the organization has ever seen.
Concerned that there may be other victims at the hand of this abuser, Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey sent out photos of the dog a week ago, seeking the public’s help to find out where she came from.
Many of the leads given to the Quincy police have turned up nothing; the pit bull lookalikes were found safe in their homes. Police are still following up on a lead from a woman who believes she once owned a nearly identical dog, named Kiya.
Though they would not divulge details, police said they have a number of other solid leads as well, all due to the public’s help.
“Somebody knows who owned this dog, and we’re counting on that person or persons to give us a call and point us in the right direction,” Steele said, noting that there were no cameras near the Whitwell Street Playground where the dog was found, and no one has reported seeing the dog being left there.
Despite the hurdles, police said they are optimistic. Judging from the numerous organizations offering rewards, the public is hopeful as well.
“There is a lot of money involved and hopefully that will be the extra nudge someone needs with information to come forward,” said Sarah Preston, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ cruelty investigation department in Washington, D.C.
Upon hearing of the harrowing story, PETA offered a $5,000 reward for anyone with information, and Second Chance Rescue of New York put up an $11,000 reward. Those offers are in addition to the $5,000 reward offered by the Animal Rescue League of Boston, which is part of the $35,000 that the organization had raised as of Tuesday. The remainder of the rescue league’s donations will be used for ongoing law-enforcement activities to prevent animal cruelty and neglect.
“People are outraged,” said Jackie O’Sullivan, a partner with Second Chance Rescue. “People might go to school with this person; you might sit next to them at work. No one wants them around them. People are so outraged; they want it to stop.”
Second Chance has also undertaken an awareness campaign and has encouraged people to post photos of their pets to a Facebook group named “Justice for Puppy Doe.” The page has received hundreds of pet photos from all over the world, each hosting a caption or sign pleading for justice.
For trial attorney William D. Kickham, the search is about more than punishing whoever is responsible for the dog’s pain.
“As a criminal lawyer, this type of activity is a precursor for serial killers. There is no question,” he said. “This is done on animals first, children second . . . and it’s awful what happened to this poor dog but it is more pernicious than that. . . It portends terrible things down the road.”
State Representative Bruce Ayers, a Democrat from Quincy, has already been advocating for harsher penalties against animal abuse to act as a deterrent for similar crimes.
“It’s unfortunate that these heinous acts keep happening. My logic was to try to work with my colleagues here at the House to up the penalties as much as we could to set a precedent,” Ayers said.
The bill, which is under Judiciary Committee review, would increase the length of the sentence to as much as five years and increase a suggested mandatory fine to as much as $5,000.
Ayers encouraged residents to get in touch with his office if they want to push for such an update.
On a local level, residents are helping in smaller ways, such as Flatbread Co. in Bedford.
The group has organized a fund-raiser this Thursday night, where a percentage of food sales will go to the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Throughout October, a portion of beverage sales will also be donated, along with money from a raffle.
The restaurant’s managers said they would even donate the expected $600 to be raised from the monthly fund-raiser ahead of time to help the organization.
With luck, that money will help find whoever tortured the animal.
“This just shook me to my core,” said manager Charmaine Krystal. “This had to be done.”
Jessica Bartlett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.