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Idaho County sheriff now says puppy was shot

Tharros rests comfortably in her kennel awaiting a CT scan at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. (Henry Moore Jr. / BCU/WSU)
Tharros rests comfortably in her kennel awaiting a CT scan at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. (Henry Moore Jr. / BCU/WSU)

Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings, whose office last week disputed claims that a puppy under the care of Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital had been shot in the jaw by its owner, now says the dog was, in fact, shot.

In late March, Georgina Greenhalgh-Sucher, adoption coordinator with Idaho nonprofit Zeus’s Friends Lost and Found Pet Network, drove the injured 4-month-old puppy, named Tharros, to WSU to be treated after she was told the puppy had been shot in the face.

Rumors of what had happened to Tharros spread across social media and were eventually picked up by KREM2 news, which reported Tharros had been shot by her owner. Last week, Charlie Powell, public information officer for WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, relayed information from the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office to the Daily News indicating the dog was not a victim of a gunshot or animal abuse “by any measure that we can see at this time.”

Powell did not have an update on the incident Monday. Last week, he said the sheriff reported Tharros had ventured to a neighbor’s house, where the dog allegedly harassed sheep on the property. A guard dog then attacked her, Powell said.

When the puppy’s owner saw the extent of the wounds, he decided to euthanize the puppy by shooting it, but was stopped when passerby Susan Rutledge saw the owner struggling to hold the dog and shoot it at the same time, Powell had said. She confronted the owner, who relinquished the puppy to her.

On Monday, Giddings said the only thing that had changed was it had been determined the owner had tried to shoot the dog in an attempted euthanization, which he said would have been within the owner’s rights.

“If you injure a dog, or you want to shoot your dog here, you shoot it,” Giddings said. “In the city, you take it to the pound, they euthanize it. What’s the difference?”

Giddings said no charges would be recommended against the owner because no crime was committed.

He said his office has not “raked (the owner) over the coals trying to figure out why he was shooting his dog because it really wasn’t any of our business.”

Tammy Falcon, manager of Zeus’s Friends Lost and Found Pet Network, said she took issue with the sheriff’s “theory,” saying shooting a dog becomes criminal in Idaho if the euthanization is ineffective. Giddings maintains the owner was within his rights.

Idaho Code Title 25 outlines the state’s animal abuse laws and lists malicious treatment of any animal as a misdemeanor. Torturing a companion animal is a misdemeanor on first offense and a felony on a second offense.

He said he has received “way too many emails” from people, some from out of state, expressing their anger over the incident and received one “nasty” email from a person Monday.

“I can guarantee you that person believes in abortion, but they care more about dogs than they do babies,” Giddings said.

An April 4 report from WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital indicates a CT scan of Tharros’ skull showed metal was found in the puppy’s jaw tissues. The report also indicates the puppy’s jaw had an open fracture and soft tissue swelling.

Falcon said Tharros, still under the care of WSU, is healing well and has become “quite the class clown.”

“Once she’s 100 percent healed, then we’ll start looking for a home to match her specialness, because she deserves all the love and care she could get for the rest of her life,” Falcon said.