A German shepherd belonging to Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler was shot to death and mutilated, Kootenai County authorities said Monday.
The body of 6-year-old Hans was found last week near the northwest corner of the Aryan Nations’ compound at Hayden Lake, well away from the nearest road, authorities said.
Butler said the dog was “captured, tortured, shot and mutilated, with its heart removed.”
Sheriff’s deputies confirmed the mutilation but said they cannot verify that the dog’s heart had been removed.
The dog was shot through the hindquarters and a second time in the neck, a sheriff’s report said.
Although there are no suspects, Butler blamed the “inflammatory rhetoric” of those opposed to his plans for a July march in Coeur d’Alene.
“They’ve been making these verbal attacks on us,” he said. “Now, their rhetoric may finally have incited someone to do this.”
Aryan Nations security workers found the dog’s body about 5 p.m. Thursday and immediately called Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies.
The dog had disappeared late on March 8 or early the next day, Butler said.
Deputies and an animal-control officer said they believe the animal had been killed about 10 hours before its body was found.
They are investigating the incident as animal cruelty, which is a misdemeanor in Idaho, said sheriff’s Sgt. Jerry Wiedenhoff. There are no suspects.
Fritz, a second German shepherd belonging to Butler, returned Sunday after being gone for a week, Butler said.
It showed no signs of injury, but the dog acted as though it had been beaten or tormented, Butler said. “He’s not acting like the same dog.”
Butler said an examination of the dead dog’s body showed its heart and intestines had been removed. The Aryan Nations posted a picture of the dog’s body on its Internet site.
“Maybe they are trying to send me a message,” Butler said. “Why would somebody do this to a harmless animal?
Butler, whose wife died in December 1995, said he was particularly close to Hans. “I don’t have a soul mate anymore, so somebody probably figured the way they could hurt me is through my one loyal friend.”
The animal cruelty is the latest instance in which Aryan Nations officials claimed to be victims of crimes.
Last month, Butler reported two minor arsons on the grounds. A power line leading from a cook shack to a bunk house also was cut by someone, Butler said.
“There sure is a funny pattern going on here,” the Aryan leader said.