THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. - Update, 10/11/18:
The body of a dog that was found skinned in Thurston County, with its paws and tail cut off, was not the result of a case of animal cruelty, the sheriff’s office said Wednesday.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said the Burnese Mountain Dog was a beloved pet that had been legally euthanized by a veterinarian at the end of its natural life.
The family decided to have the dog memorialized by a local taxidermist, who improperly disposed of the animal’s carcass once the skinning process was complete.
The remains were later found by a couple near the Nisqually River, who then alerted authorities.
Detectives say the taxidermist was unaware of the recent cat mutilations in the county and did not know that the community was on alert.
A Thurston County couple said they found a dead dog that had been skinned, with its paws and tail cut off, at the Nisqually River Wheelchair Fishing Access area near Sixth Avenue Southeast and Riverside Drive.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the dog mutilation and said Monday that it doesn’t appear the dog had bite marks from another animal.
A necropsy will be performed to answer more questions surrounding the dog’s death.
“It was terrible, it was like, it was so fresh,” said Jacinda Gehrig.
Jacinda Gehrig and her boyfriend, Paul Krause, told KIRO 7 that they found the skinned dog around 6:45 p.m. Friday as they walked toward the trails near the Nisqually River.
"I almost fainted and blacked and I had to walk away for a second and then just kind get myself together,” said Gehrig, who shared a graphic video of the skinned dog with KIRO 7.
"There was a pair of gloves that had fat around them,” said Gehrig.
The couple called 911.
"It's pretty scarring, it really was,” said Paul Krause.
Krause said he immediately thought of the person or people investigators believe have been killing and mutilating cats recently in Thurston County.
"I'm scared they're going to move on to kids,” said Krause.
On Monday, a KIRO 7 tipster offered another explanation: taxidermy. The caller pointed to the dog being skinned and its tail and paws cut off.
That reasoning doesn’t explain why the dog would be left in such a public area but the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said investigators wanted to speak with the tipster.
Shannon Karnes, who comes to this area of the Nisqually River, said the discovery makes her want to stay away.
"I wouldn't think somebody who is ok in the mind would do something like that,” said Karnes. “I'm not going to bring my kids here."
Investigators do not believe the Thurston County serial cat killer is responsible for the dog’s death, sources told KIRO 7 Sunday.
On Monday the sheriff’s office said it didn’t know whether the same person is responsible.
That provided little comfort for Jacinda and Paul, who said the image of the skinned dog has been stuck in their heads ever since.
"I was so scared to go to sleep, like every time I closed my eyes, I saw the dog over and over,” said Gehrig.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said they are not investigating any other similar dog deaths. Deputies have assigned one of the detectives investigating the cat killings to handle this case.
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