A Terlton man is in jail on six complaints of animal cruelty.
Pawnee County deputies arrested Bill Harris Wednesday after serving a search warrant on his property Sunday. Investigators said they found six dogs on Harris’ land, one of them dead.
Pictures show some of the dogs were skin and bones before being taken to an animal shelter. Pawnee County Major Kevin Chapman said the dogs were so emaciated they were near death.
But Harris's good friend, who asked not to be identified, said the dogs were always well taken care of and used to hunt hogs.
“Those dogs are his babies,” the friend said. “He's fairly well known in the hog hunting, and when people would find out he had pups, they'd want one.”
His friend said Harris recently became concerned because his dogs had suddenly lost a lot of weight. He said Harris was working to get the dogs healthy again.
“He was feeding them non-stop and couldn't get them to put that weight back on,” Harris’s friend said. “About every two weeks would buy about $200 worth of dog food, and here lately he's been changing his dog food, thinking he's burning them up - thought it might have been the heat.”
A shed in Harris's yard is full of empty dog food bags, but the investigator said Harris couldn't prove he'd been feeding the dogs. The investigator said the only dog food on the property was molding in a barrel.
Harris's roommate of about five months said she turned him in for animal cruelty. The dogs lived in kennels about 25 yards from the house, but the roommate said she didn't know they were being neglected until a few days ago.
Harris's friend said he thinks there's more to the story and believes his friend was set-up.
“He didn't do what they're saying he did,” he said. “Somebody has been messing with those dogs is what happened.”
Harris's friend said he thinks testing will prove his suspicions to be true.
Deputies said the deceased dog was sent to a laboratory to be tested to find out what caused it to die. They said the other five dogs are doing better and already putting on some weight.