Abby collapsed near the back steps, convulsing before her owner took her inside, where she died.
Her companion, Snoopy, died shortly after, both victims of what animal control officials suspect is a targeted assault using poisoned meatballs to kill Spokane’s best friends.
The attack on Abby and Snoopy took place in the 3300 block of East 55th Street. Another dog living near Regal Street and the Palouse Highway died Friday. Then on Monday, a homeowner near 36th Street and Grand Boulevard found a suspicious meatball similar to those found Friday.
Officials suspect a connection but haven’t determined one. The meat will be sent to Washington State University for testing.
Meanwhile, dog owners are urged to inspect their yards and keep their pets indoors, and the Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information that leads to an arrest.
In each case, officials said, the targeted properties have dog houses, signs or other indications that dogs live there.
“It looks to me as though somebody is just driving around and wherever they see evidence of a dog living there, they toss those meatballs out,” said Gail Mackie, executive director of SpokAnimal. “It doesn’t make a difference where you live, you’re not immune.”
The people responsible for the tainted meatballs face charges of first-degree animal cruelty.
Nancy Hill, director of the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, described the substance as “a very fast-acting, horrible-death kind of poison.”
The meatballs “are very attractive, and they’re very lethal,” she said. “A dog can eat a meatball before you can even blink an eye.”
The woman who found the meat in her front yard on Monday “for some miraculous reason” had only let her dogs in the backyard that morning, Hill said.
“She was extremely upset knowing those were sitting in the area,” Hill said.
Abby and Snoopy lived with 21-year-old David Cheney and his family.
Cheney found the dogs early Friday after they ate what officials believe are the same type of meatballs found earlier that day near Regal Street and the Palouse Highway.
A SCRAPS investigator found several suspicious meatballs in Cheney’s neighbor’s yard.
“I spent Friday and Saturday burying both dogs,” Cheney said.
Both are buried in the backyard under large wooden crosses. Snoopy’s grave is below a tree he liked to lie under on sunny days.
The Cheneys brought the dogs with them from Florida when they moved to Spokane in 2002. Cheney said he has no idea who would want to hurt them or why.
“The cops have better get ahold of him before I do,” Cheney said. “I’ll go to prison over it.”