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Dog whose throat was slit euthanized; animal shelter believed it had no choice

Updated: Wednesday, January 8 2014, 07:11 PM CST
Reported by: Donna Kirker Morgan

HARRISBURG -- Animal lovers are angry tonight that a dog named Trigger was euthanized last week after he survived several knife wounds to the neck.

CBS 21 confirmed the dog was euthanized by the Humane Society of Harrisburg after he was charged as a “dangerous dog” by the state department of agriculture.

You may recall Trigger captured hearts when he was found barely alive along a Lower Swatara Township Road near Stoner Road. Police say Trigger’s owner allegedly instructed another man to kill him after the dog bit the face of the owner’s 8-year-old daughter.

That history is why the the department of agriculture said it got involved.

Someone reported the bite incident, which means the department is then obligated to follow through with an investigation. A dog law warden determined that Trigger bit the 8-year-old at least once. The bite was unprovoked.

“When a child or an adult is bitten by a dog, unprovoked, we are obligated to file dangerous dog charges,” department of agriculture spokesperson Samantha Krepps said. 

However Krepps says that doesn’t mean the dog must be euthanized. First, she explained, Trigger didn’t get his day in court.

“A district magistrate will decide if a dog is deemed 'dangerous,'” she said.

Also, according the department of agriculture's website, an owner can still continue to care for a dog deemed to be dangerous, if the owner pays $500 a year, confines the dog, muzzles the dog if outside the confinement, and purchases liability insurance.

At the point when the state wardon completed its investigation, we are told the dog had been turned over the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area (HSHA). Because of that, HSHA was cited for harboring a potentially dangerous dog.

We received a statement from the Humane Society. It reads the dag law differently.

They believe the dog was unadoptable, once the label of “dangerous dog” was placed on his head. Here is the Society’s statement:

“The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture concluded their bite investigation with respect to the dog named Trigger on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, and informed us that based on the severity and circumstances of the bite involving an eight-year-old girl, Trigger has been deemed a dangerous dog. Therefore, HSHA was cited for harboring a dangerous dog as we are now the owners.

"Under Section 502-A of the Dog Law, “it is unlawful for an owner of a dog who has been charged with harboring a dangerous dog to dispense, move, offer to sell, give away or transfer the dog in any manner except to have it humanely [euthanize]”.

"Therefore, HSHA cannot legally adopt out the dog. Based on our review of the bite investigation done by the Department of Agriculture and the dog being deemed a dangerous dog, HSHA humanely euthanized the dog.”

Krepps disagrees with that assessment. She says, if a person wants to adopt a dog deemed dangerous, they must notify the state and meet all the other conditions required under law to keep the  dog secure.  She says the laws are designed to keep the public safe, as well as the dog.

Meanwhile, the original owner of Trigger and the man who allegedly slit his throat continue to move through the justice system accused of animal cruelty.

Dog whose throat was slit euthanized; animal shelter believed it had no choice

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