Animal control officers charged with shooting dog in Rowley – NBC Boston
Investigators are investigating whether two Massachusetts animal control officers unlawfully shot and killed a husky.
The incident is believed to have happened on the grounds of the Hydrant Regency, a kennel in Rowley which is now closed because kennel owner April Bernhardt is accused of keeping 37 dogs in unsafe conditions.
The two animal control officers are from Rowley and Newbury. NBC10 Boston learned about the investigation from court documents related to the Bernhardt case.
The documents reveal that when Bernhadt was interviewed earlier this month, she was asked about a separate case involving animal control officers that investigators had just learned of.
It is unclear how investigators discovered the incident.
Bernhardt told investigators that a stray husky was brought to the kennel, and over a period of days, the dog bit her several times.
After receiving medical attention and a rabies shot, she says officers from Rowley and Newbury arrived with guns. While they were with the crated husky outside and behind a fence, Berhnardt said he heard a gunshot, the dog yelp and then a second gunshot.
Bernhardt did not see the incident and only heard it and told investigators that “it made her feel awful and it was inhuman”.
She also says it “keeps her up at night.”
A spokesperson for the Essex County District Attorney’s Office confirms there is an active investigation into the incident and possible charges include the “malicious killing” of an animal.
NBC10 Boston has reached one of the animal control officers at the center of the investigation. The man said the dog was very aggressive, but said he was unaware of the investigation and would not answer any further questions about what happened.
NBC10 Boston was unable to reach the other animal control officer. Police chiefs and city administrators in Rowley and Newbury did not return requests for comment.
The incident is believed to have happened in late 2021, but investigators only learned of it within the past two weeks.
“There’s a protocol that has to be followed,” said longtime animal control officer Deni Goldman, who works for the town of Dedham.
She says there is usually a hearing before a dog can be euthanized and a veterinarian must be present when a dog is put down.
“As animal control officers, we are obligated to handle euthanasia situations without causing unnecessary pain or distress to the animal,” she said.
Goldman was unaware of the allegations involving the two animal control officers.
It is unclear if and when charges may be filed.