COLBERT COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - An investigation has been launched into a horrific case of animal torture following a gruesome discovery in Colbert County.
A dog was brutally killed, its body parts cut off and skinned removed.
Animal Control Officer Anthony Wilbanks says it's one of the worst cases of animal abuse he's ever handled.
"It was gory. I've been doing this job for seven years and I've seen a lot of things but I've never seen anything quite that bad," Wilbanks said.
The dog was found dead on a creek bank off of River Road, about a half mile past the Point Restaurant, Wednesday by a concerned fisherman who called 911.
The animal had been mutilated while it was still alive and then its body was thrown off a bridge and dumped in the creek.
"At approximately 3:30 p.m., we got a 911 call concerning a dead animal in a creek bank," Wilbanks said. "When we got there, the animal had been skinned, ears removed, testicles removed and thrown in the creek."
The animal's remains hadn't been there very long, investigators learned.
"We did some research on rigor mortis on a 30 lbs. and it takes roughly three hours. On this dog, rigor mortis hadn't even started to set in yet so it was probably dead an hour, an hour and a half," Wilbanks explained.
Officials believe the injuries were inflicted when the dog was still alive after examining the remains.
"There were no signs of a gunshot wound on the animal or anything like that. We seriously believe it was tortured," Wilbanks stated.
"They left about six inches of skin on all four legs. Other than that, it was completely skinned."
It is not clear if the dog was a stray or someone's pet.
"We're not sure of the breed, but it was not a coyote," Wilbanks added. "This is uncalled for. It needs to be stopped. We need to find this person and let the people in Colbert County know that we're not going to tolerate this stuff. We'll put you in jail and we'll try to put you in prison for it."
No footprints were found around the dog at the scene.
"I think they pulled up and threw it off the bridge out of a vehicle,' Wilbanks said. "It's a very sad, sad situation."
Colbert County authorities need the public's help to track down the suspect or suspects involved in the crime.
Anyone with information is urged to come forward.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward in the case.
"If anybody knows anything, you're kept anonymous. Crime Stoppers will not tell who told. If you have any information on this, we would love to have it because this person needs to be put behind bars. If they did it one time, they're going to do it again," Wilbanks added.
They face charges of Animal Cruelty with Intent, which is a felony.
"I'm assuming it could be kids thinking this is funny, a couple of teenage boys thinking no one was going to miss this dog. And if we find out, I don't care if they're 12 or 70, we're going to try to put them in jail, put them somewhere where they realize what they've done because this is just cruel," Wilbanks explained.
"I think whoever did this ought to be a cell with a picture of this dog taped to the wall for the next 10 years. That's actually too good of a punishment for them."
WARNING: The images of the mutilated animal are extremely graphic, but could serve to help identify a suspect. Advise caution before viewing.
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No suspect has been identified at this time. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Colbert County Animal Shelter or Colbert County Sheriff's Office.
Animal Shelter: (256) 381-4073
Sheriff's Office: (256) 383-0741
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