Kole, left and Bentley, right. Both dogs got loose while on a walk with their owner Tuesday minutes after the Supreme Court upheld an euthanasia order against the dangerous pit bulls. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Jones)
WATERVILLE — The president of Humane Society Waterville Area’s board of directors said Thursday that he is doing everything possible to help police investigate a case in which two dogs ordered euthanized by the court reportedly got loose when their previous owner walked them outside the Webb Road animal shelter Tuesday.
“At the end of the day, the public’s safety is our main concern,” Michael Brown said Thursday morning. “We’re cooperating with all the people investigating the case in all ways possible and our biggest concern is a safe resolution.”
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday upheld a court order to euthanize two pit bulls declared dangerous because they killed a Boston terrier, Fergie Rose, and seriously injured its owner, Sharron Carey, last year in Winslow. Carey has since filed a civil lawsuit against Jones.
The owner of the pit bulls, Danielle Jones, of Winslow, reportedly went to the humane society shelter Tuesday afternoon, took the dogs, Bentley and Kole, for a walk and returned to the shelter to report they had slipped their leashes and went off into the woods.
Jones said in a telephone interview Thursday morning from her business, The Muddy Paw, on Bay Street in Winslow, that she was referring all calls to her lawyers and declined to comment on the missing pit bulls.
“There’s a lawsuit being brought against me by Sharron Carey so I’m not at will to speak to anybody, but my lawyers should be able to talk to you,” Jones said.
Her lawyer, Tom Page, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Jones’ other attorney, Bonnie Martinolich, also did not return a call.
Lisa Smith, executive director of the Humane Society Waterville Area, did not immediately return calls placed Thursday morning to both her cell phone and the shelter, nor did she respond to an email. Smith also did not respond to a phone message or text sent Wednesday and was not at the shelter late Wednesday afternoon.
Brown, however, said Smith was to release a statement Thursday about the case.
Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey and Winslow police Chief Shawn O’Leary also did not immediately return calls Thursday morning seeking comments on any investigation updates. Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney was out of her office Thursday morning, according to a woman who answered the phone there. Maloney did not immediately return an email seeking comment about what her office’s role will be in the case.
It is not clear how Jones was able to go to the shelter Tuesday and walk the dogs or whether she knew about the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s decision to uphold the euthanization order at the time. The high court issued its decision upholding the euthanasia order around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and Jones took the two pit bulls for a walk near the Webb Road animal shelter between 12:30-1 p.m.
Brown, the humane society president, said he did not want to jeopardize the police investigation and referred questions about the incident to Massey.
Brown said he met with both Massey and O’Leary Wednesday about the case “to make sure we’re doing all we can to help them solve this.”
“They are investigating, so I’d be more than happy to speak with you once this is finalized,” Brown said. “I’d rather have it come from them right now.”
After a feline distemper outbreak occurred at the shelter earlier this month, killing more than three dozen cats and kittens, Brown said Humane Society officials were working to review all shelter policies and procedures to ensure best practices are being used there to make sure animals are safe. The shelter closed during the outbreak, on Oct 1, and reopened this past weekend.
On Thursday morning, he reiterated that stance.
“We’re working internally around protocol and procedure,” Brown said. “Internally, we’re doing the best to make sure all our policies and procedures protect the public and our animals.”
Amy Calder — 861-9247