Dog found dead at pound

Left outside in freezing night

Workers at the Sangamon County animal control center made a grisly discovery last Friday morning.

It was shortly after 10 a.m. when workers found a mixed-breed dog, dead, inside an exercise pen outside the center. No one knows how many hours it had been there, with temperatures dipping to three degrees below zero during the night. No one knows whether the creature was alive when it was placed in the pen where prospective owners play with prospective best friends and the center’s dogs get walks and respites, however brief, from kennel life. No one knows the dog’s name, or if it had one at all.

All anyone knows is that the dog was dumped, dead or alive, after the shelter closed on Thursday, says Jim Stone, director of the Sangamon County Health Department that runs the animal control shelter.

Stone’s voice quakes with disbelief and anger at the thought of anyone just leaving a dog out in the cold, regardless of whether it was still alive. The pen, he noted, isn’t far from the county’s 911 dispatch center adjacent to the animal control center.

“For someone to come in and do that next to a 24-hour operation is beyond me,” Stone says. “To have something like this happen is devastating for our staff.”

There was no post-mortem examination to determine a cause of death, Stone said, nor is there a formal criminal investigation.

“We’re exploring what our options are with that, whether there was a potential for anyone to witness something like that,” Stone says. “If anybody has any idea or any knowledge about this whatsoever, they can call my office. I will consider any information that they want to provide me confidential, and I will pass it on to the proper authorities.”

The number is 535-3100.

It was an act as senseless as it was horrific. The animal control center takes in unwanted dogs, giving them another shot with new owners. If the dog was alive, it could have been surrendered during regular business hours instead of being left outside to freeze. If it was already dead, then why leave it like that and force those who found it to wonder about its final hours?

The incident has prompted immediate change. Employees now check the center’s exercise pens first thing in the morning, Stone said. The center is also considering whether to beef up video surveillance.

“This is the first time anything like this has happened,” Stone said. “I can’t believe that anyone would do something like this.”

Contact Bruce Rushton at

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