Spokane resident Kenneth Grooms told SpokAnimal Care officials that he didn’t want his two black Labrador mixes, Sunny and Josh, to be put down. He wasn’t kidding.
Grooms, 36, is now being sought by Spokane Police after someone broke through the back window at SpokAnimal, cut through three fences and a padlock and entered the holding pens set aside for dangerous dogs.
The only things SpokAnimal Director Gail Mackie said she found missing after the weekend break-in were Sunny and Josh. The dogs were declared dangerous after a mail carrier suffered several bites on his legs and wrists June 7 outside Grooms’ home at 1614 E. Mallon Ave.
“I can certainly understand people being emotional about their animals,” said Mackie, who has worked with animals for more than 30 years. “I would be super concerned if I was in the same circumstance. But you can’t break into a building and try to right what you think is a wrong.”
Sunny and Josh had previously been declared potentially dangerous before the June 7 biting incident, Mackie said. So, after the latest incident, the dogs were confiscated and they cleared a mandatory, 10-day quarantine. Grooms also signed paperwork authorizing SpokAnimal to dispatch the pets.
“Then he called on the 17th and said he had changed his mind and wanted to appeal to the Hearing Examiner’s office,” Mackie said. “He had until today (Monday). Obviously, the break-in was at the 11th hour.”
The last SpokAnimal employee left the office, 710 N. Napa St., at about 10 p.m. Saturday and the burglary was discovered at 6 a.m. Sunday, Mackie said.
The intruder entered the building by cutting a screen off a window in the back that was 6 feet off the ground. The burglar apparently had bolt cutters because employees found three gates cut open leading to the area where dangerous dogs are kept sequestered from the other pets, Mackie said.
But that left a problem: How to escape.
“Then he realized he couldn’t lift those black Labs to put them out the (raised) window,” Mackie said. “So he kicked out the front door and went out that way. It does not appear that anything else was stolen or touched other then these two dangerous dogs.”
Repair crews worked Monday morning to fix the back window, install new gates and replace the glass in the front door. Mackie estimated the damage at $1,200 to $1,500.
Spokane Police spokesman Dick Cottam said officers went by Grooms’ residence on Sunday, but he wasn’t home.
The burglary marks the second time in just over a year that a dangerous dog on death row has been saved, Mackie said.
Just weeks ago, the staff took a pit bull named Mia to a secret location because they feared its owner would again try to rescue it. Mia was finally put down following a four-year ordeal in which the owner hid the dog, had his girlfriend avoid police by taking it out a back door and staged a similar burglary to rescue the dog, Mackie said.
“People are often more emotional about their pets than they are about their children,” Mackie said. “But there were alternatives and (Grooms) didn’t pursue any of those alternatives.”
Anyone with information about the two dogs, Josh or Sunny, or about Grooms is asked to call the TIPS Line at 242-8477, Cottam said.
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