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Posted on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

Necropsy results shed new light on dog abuse case in Sylvan Township

By Lee Higgins

Two dogs euthanized last month after they were allegedly attacked with a hatchet while bound each suffered a single pelvis-fracturing blow, newly released records show.

The dogs, a 9-month-old Rottweiler-hound mix named Bella and a 5-year-old shepherd mix named Buddy, were found severely injured on March 9 in Sylvan Township.


Bella, a 9-month-old Rottweiler-Hound mix died after she was attacked with a hatchet, investigators said.

According to investigators, the dogs were reported missing that morning and were found roughly six-and-a-half hours apart by the same woman near Garvey and Pierce roads. The woman had driven through the intersection twice that day.

Necropsy results obtained from Michigan State University’s Diagnostic Center for Population & Animal Health shed some light on the dogs' injuries.

According to the results obtained by under the Freedom of Information Act, each dog suffered a fractured pelvis after being struck once in the right hip area. It's possible that 64-pound Bella was hit more than once, reports say, based on the extent of the fractures.

Results show Bella's wound was 6.3 inches long, 5.5 inches wide and 2 inches deep. As for 104-pound Buddy, his wound was 11.8 inches long and roughly 3 inches deep. The width of his wound was not noted. Investigators believe a large cleaver, ax or hatchet was used in the attacks, reports say.

Results also show that bruising was found around Bella's left hind leg and both of Buddy's hind legs. The bruising, reports say, suggests that a rope or some type of tether had been recently used to keep the animals still.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley continues to investigate and is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible, said the group’s executive director, Tanya Hilgendorf. Investigators do not have new details to release, Hilgendorf said Thursday. Anyone with information can call the Humane Society's anonymous tip line at (734) 661-3551.

Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at



Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 11:22 p.m.

I read the necropsy report and there is absolutely no basis for concluding that this was an attack with a hatchet. First, the description of the wound in each dog does not give any evidence for more than a single blow. Second the wound in each dog was a different width. If the wound were made by a hatchet one would have to conclude that two different hatchets of different widths were used. In one case the hatchet would have to be 12 inches wide. There were no pictures taken of the wounds. The necropsy is so flawed that, if any suspect were ever found, no one could ever prove in court that this was a deliberate wound. In fact, this was more likely some type of car accident or accident involving a farm implement. Someone at MSU needs to get some training in forensic autopsy procedures.


Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

There is no reason to do an article on the extent of the disgusting damage some budding serial killer did to these dogs. Tell us the police have found the person responsible instead.


Sat, Apr 16, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

I didn't see anything new in this article other than size of wounds. It makes one wonder if maybe they weren't struck by a vehicle instead of being attacked. I had a dog struck by a fast moving vehicle and it had similar injuries and cut s in the hip area.


Sat, Apr 16, 2011 : 3:49 a.m.

I'm still waiting for the part of the article that sheds light on the case. This seems like a very distasteful piece offering little to no valuable information. Why did feel the need to describe the size of the wounds?


Sat, Apr 16, 2011 : 1:38 a.m.

zip the cat--- This story has nothing to do with a pit bull or the Humane Society that would have done anything to save these two precious dogs. How insensitive to bring up your own personal bias against pit bulls to use this devastating article for your personal anger. My heart goes out to your friend's grandchild---yet this was not the place/time/story to vent.


Sat, Apr 16, 2011 : 12:45 a.m.

I wouldn't have read this story if I had know it was telling the gory details. Sad still...


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 8:02 p.m.

I'm not sure I understand why we needed to know this. If we already know the dogs were bound and beaten with a hatchet, is it still news to publish the dimensions of the wounds? How is this productive? I can only guess that the hope is that someone out there knows something and shocking them with the horror of these details will spur them to come forward. Poor babies. :(


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

Animal cruelty is behavior characteristicly seen in people who are psychopaths. They aren't necessarily mentally ill--they are simply, and savagely, cruel. Many of them will go on to commit more felonies, resulting in transfers to our ever burdgeoning prison population. If they are not found and arrested for their animal cruelty, rest assured that they will aspire to venture into bigger,more vicious crimes. They will eventually be caught, but perhaps not till they have left a trail of violence, not only with animals, but with humans as well. The sooner they are identified, and found guilty, we are that much safer. However, rehabilitation for these criminals is another story.

zip the cat

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 6:04 p.m.

I am a multi pet owner and lover of all animals and up to last week I supported the humane society in any way I could afford. Bit when you made the pit bull your spokesdog you lost all of my support. Tell my friends grandchild with 80 plus stitches in her face from a pit bull pet family dog raised from a puppy and without reason attacked a defenseless child for no reason what so ever. Tell her how sweet your spokesdog is.


Sat, Apr 16, 2011 : 12:12 a.m.

Discrimination and ignorance don't help the situation. ANY dog can be dangerous. Thinking that pit bulls are more aggressive than any other breed is just incorrect. How about when a retriever bites someone? Or a chihuahua kills a baby? Yep, that happens too. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> My Great Dane, some would say the most gentle of all breeds, bit my sister in the face and broke her nose. There is no such thing as an &quot;AGGRESSIVE&quot; dog. They exhibit aggression for a reason- usually it's because of human behavior. Not some genetic predisposition. As humans, we need to take responsibility for our actions and not blame the breed.

susan halvorsen

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Everyone please pray that these psychopath(s) are caught or dealt with so severely that we never have them be able to walk the streets again in this lifetime. I agree that the details are sickening and best left out of the paper to avoid copycat crimes. G-d will deal with these folks in his time if we're not able to find them. Cause and effect is in full force never forget!


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

Since my comment mirrors the previous ones of: * If I could do so without penalty, the ability of pain I would inflict upon the perpetrators of this heinous crime holds few boundries * Why re-hash the gory details if there isn't really _new_ information to contribute? I would just like to say in addition to that, how incredibly and terribly sorry I am for the owners of these dogs. Their penance might not come from our hands, or that of the law, but surely they will be dealt with accordingly. Someday.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

I see no reason to post this article at the top of the front page, leading with the gory details of the attack, other than to grab hits. Yeah, yeah it's all true. So what? Gory details are all that is new. Shame on you,


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

I would assume it's for shock value and to keep the case on people's minds. So often these cases go unsolved and are completely forgotten. Perhaps the gory details will make people take a little action toward catching the person or people that committed the crime.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

My deepest sympathies to the owners of these dogs. It's gut-wrenching to hear these facts. I certainly hope someone will come forward about this crime. :(

free form

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

Obviously, this is a terrible situation and I have the utmost sympathy for the owners of the dogs. I hope the person who committed such awful crimes is caught and punished. BUT, this &quot;story&quot; did NOT shed new light on the case. I clicked on the link because I wanted to know if there was new information in the investigation, not because I need gruesome details of the wounds these animals suffered. Seriously, what purpose does it serve to find out the length and depth of the cuts? Please, spend your time on REAL journalism, not FOIAing and reporting information that serves no purpose. Go ahead and delete my post now... as I suspect you will.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

I appreciate the update. It keeps people aware of this horrible act and that this crime is not solved and certainly needs to be.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

There is no extent to the harm I would inflict on the person who did this. I'm not normally a violent person, but this kind of thing just enrages me. To torture a helpless animal is beyond psychotic and needs far harsher penalties.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

This is so horrible. I hope they find the person responsible for doing this to these poor babies. My heart aches with the thought of the agony these poor dogs endured. My heart felt prayers for their owners.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

Oh my gosh, that's sooo difficult to read. I do hope that you asked the owners of these babies before you posted this story. They have endured enough pain without having the horrid details splayed out for all to see. To Bella and Buddy's parents, again, my most sincere condolences.