SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah (ABC 4 News) - It's been a week since Jasper, the five year old Golden Retriever was shot in the chest at close range with a blow dart. The shooting happened last Tuesday in Coalville, Utah. Jasper's owners are desperate to find answers, but are hitting some dead ends with law enforcement in Summit County.
Jasper nearly died following the shooting, but was saved thanks to emergency surgery. The dart hit part of Jasper's lung, puncturing it, and almost hit his aorta. It will take months for him to heal, and according to doctors, his owners will be stuck with a hospital bill in the range of $3,000.00
Owner Jon Weinberg says he's been in touch with the county's Animal Control department, but is frustrated that in a week's time, they haven't come up with any leads. Weinberg also questions why the sheriff's department refuses to get involved. "Some people are saying it's the sheriff's office that takes care of it..., and yet all I see is the animal control team interviewing and talking to folks, and it seems like there's a lot more resources that could be put on this."
Summit County Sheriff's deputies refused to comment on camera about the incident, claiming they don't investigate cases involving domesticated animals. In the meantime, Animal Control says they have an experienced animal cruelty investigator working on the shooting, looking for clues involving the blow dart that penetrated Jasper's chest, along with asking neighbors about what they saw. Due to the unusual weaponry used in the shooting, investigators feel it could take longer than usual to solve. They are asking for the public's patience with the matter. "Things don't happen like they do on TV, when a crime occurs at 8:00 and is solved by 8:55, not including commercials. It takes time to get answers," says Summit County Administrative Services Director Brian Bellamy.
Anne Davis, a spokeswoman for the Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah disagrees with Summit County's handling of the investigation, arguing that most counties involve law enforcement officers when such a severe penalty is at stake. "Inasmuch as it's a felony, it's logical that police should follow up on this first, not animal control."
Under Henry's Law, animal abuse in Utah is considered a felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a five thousand dollar fine.
The Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah has put up a $500 reward for any information that could lead to an arrest in Jasper's shooting. For more on how to donate, you can visit their website at http://www.henryslaw.com/, or visit the Justice for Jasper facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/JusticeForJasper
Anyone with information is urged to call Summit County Animal Control at (435) 615-3985.