The death of an elderly stroke victim’s dog is being investigated by the Union Public Safety Department as a possible case of cruelty to animals.
Public Safety Director Sam White said Wednesday that Off. Al Griffin was called to Classy Pet Grooming, 503 S. Duncan Bypass, Union, Tuesday afternoon in reference to an individual trying to pick up their dog. He said the dog’s owner, John E. Johnson, had called the public safety department to report that his dog was dead inside Classy Pet Grooming.
The incident report states that Johnson, 75, told Griffin that he’d brought his dog, a Border Collie, to Classy Pet Grooming for a trimming. Before he could go back to get the dog, Johnson said he got sick and then suffered a stroke on May 2 and was hospitalized until Monday. Johnson said he’d tried to contact Classy Pet Grooming owner Shelley Vinson during that time but was unable to reach her.
Johnson told Griffin that he’d came to Classy Pet Grooming that day to check on his dog, but finding no one was there looked in through a window. It was then he saw his dog lying dead in a kennel inside the building and called police.
Griffin then looked in through the window and saw the dog which appeared to be dead. He also noticed two other dogs, described by the report as Shih-Tzus, inside the building at the front door. Two more dogs were outside in a dog kennel.
As Griffin was speaking with the victim and the man who’d brought him to Classy Pet Grooming, two women arrived on the scene. The report states the two women said they were there to meet with Vinson between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. As Griffin was talking with the women, the report states Vinson called one of the women, enabling the officer to speak with her as well.
The report states Vinson told Griffin she was at her business earlier and had attempted to take Johnson’s dog outside on a leash, but the dog got away from her and ran down the hill beside her building. Vinson told Griffin that her two dogs kept going down the hill and then back to her so she followed them down and found Johnson’s dog lying dead in the bushes. She said she carried it back to the building, put it inside a kennel and turned the air conditioner down low so it wouldn’t stink inside.
Vinson said she’d attempted to call Johnson’s sister about the dog but was unable to make contact. She said she’d also contacted Triangle Veterinary Clinic, the Union County Animal Control officer, and a secretary with the public safety department about the dog before she found it. She added that she was out of town and was not coming to the business.
Griffin then contacted White who came to the scene and using a key they entered the building together. They found the dog dead inside the kennel and White described conditions inside the building as “unsanitary.”
“It stunk to high heaven,” White said. “There was dog feces throughout the building and there was dog hair everywhere. Then you had the dead dog in the kennel box. Then you had the two loose dogs running around, they didn’t have any food and water. It was just a very nasty place.”
White added that while Vinson did call the public safety department, she did not tell them of the situation.
The scene was then turned over to an investigator and the Shih-Tzus and other two dogs were transported to the Union County Animal Control shelter by the public safety department’s animal control officer.
At Johnson’s request, public safety officers disposed of his dog’s remains.
The report states that later that day, the owner of the two Shih-Tzus came to the public safety department to claim the animals. A property return form was signed by Griffin and the owner and the dogs were then turned over to her.
White said the incident remains under investigation.