Investigators are looking into whether two Massachusetts animal control officers illegally shot and killed a Husky.
The incident allegedly happened on the grounds of the Hydrant Regency, a kennel in Rowley that’s now shut down because the kennel owner April Bernhardt is accused of keeping 37 dogs in dangerous conditions.
The two animal control officers are from Rowley and Newbury. NBC10 Boston learned about the investigation from court documents tied to the Bernhardt case.
The documents reveal that when Bernhardt was being questioned earlier this month, she was asked about a separate case involving the animal control officers that investigators had just learned about.
It’s unclear how investigators found out about the incident.
Bernhardt told investigators that a stray husky had been brought to the kennel, and that over a period of several days, the dog bit her multiple times.
After she got medical care and a rabies shot, she says the officers from Rowley and Newbury arrived with guns. While they were with the crated Husky outside and behind a fence, Berhnardt says she heard a shot, the dog yelp and then a second shot.
Bernhardt didn’t see the incident and only heard it and told investigators it “made her feel horrible and it was inhumane.”
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 “malicious killing” of an animal.
NBC10 Boston reached one of the animal control officers at the center of the investigation. The man said the dog was very aggressive, but said he didn’t know about the investigation and wouldn’t answer more questions about what happened.
NBC10 Boston has not been able to reach the other animal control officer. The police chiefs and town administrators in both Rowley and Newbury have not returned requests for comment.
The incident allegedly happened in late 2021, but investigators just found out about it in the last couple of weeks.
“There is a protocol that needs to be followed,” said longtime animal control officer Deni Goldman, who works for the town of Dedham.
She says there’s typically 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’re required to handle situations of euthanasia without causing the animal unnecessary pain or distress,” she said.
Goldman was not aware of the allegations involving the two animal control officers.
It’s unknown if and when any charges may be filed.