Two juveniles held in dog abuse case

Friday, July 9th 2004, 7:43 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Investigators say the killing of six puppies and the injuring of an adult dog with fireworks may be two separate crimes.

Two teenage boys, ages 14 and 16, were arrested Friday after police questioned them about the animal cruelty case.

The boys allegedly told police that they caught a black Labrador mix, doused its back with lighter fluid and set it on fire, said Sgt. Tony Cellino.

However, they denied having anything to do with the alleged firecracker killings of six other puppies, and investigators have been unable to verify that those killings occurred.

The juveniles each were jailed on one felony complaint of animal cruelty. They will remain in custody until a hearing Tuesday.

The Lab mix suffered burns and officials say the puppies died after fireworks were placed in their mouths.

Another dog, a black and tan heeler mix believed to be the puppies' mother, was not injured but was traumatized by the loss of her offspring, according to officials with the Tulsa Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The boys' denial of their involvement with the deaths of the puppies, ``strengthens our theory that we've actually got two different crimes that are not connected,'' said Larry Briggs, director of the city's animal shelter.

Police began their investigation after a Turley woman reported finding the puppies dead Monday among fireworks debris. The puppies were alongside the Labrador mix and the heeler mix.

Investigators have not found the puppies nor any evidence of their abuse.

Investigators, who interviewed the woman who reported the abuse, do not discount her story.

``We don't have any information to disprove or prove our complainant's story,'' Briggs said.

Officers canvassing the neighborhood found the owner of the dog believed to have been the mother of the puppies. She told them that the dead puppies could not have belonged to her dog.

``(The owner) tells us that her dog had 11 pups about a month ago'' and that two of her offspring were still at the owner's home, Briggs said.

The rest were given away.

The Tulsa Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has been caring for the two adult dogs, believes the dogs were attacked Sunday night.

Animal rights groups and private donations raised more than $16,000 for a reward for information leading to the arrest.