Canine Rights

A Michigan Prison Officer Was Charged After Service Dog Was Shot And Found Dumped In The Ditch

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Image from Humane Society of Macomb via NBC News

Officials have charged a former Michigan prison officer with the death last year of his assistance dog

Sheriff Christopher R. Swanson said in a video press conference Wednesday that Genesee County Corrections Deputy Jacob Wilkinson was fired last Friday after 42 days on the job.

Wilson is accused of killing the dog, named Habs, sometime between September and October. He tied the canine, shot it three times, and finally got rid of the body in a ditch. The incident occurred because it “nipped at him” when he was clipping the canine’s nails.

“And that guy … thought he had enough control over the dog that you’re not gonna do that. So he duct-taped the rear legs of the dog, duct-taped the front legs of the dog, duct-taped the muzzle,” Swanson said.

According to Bonnie Kanicki, director of Saginaw County Animal Care and Control, the dog was discovered in a ditch near the intersection of West Freeland and Hackett roads in Tittabawassee Township on March 24 by road commission workers.

The dog had been shot three times and had a microchip ID, according to a necropsy. “They used the technology and they tracked that microchip to a resident of Saginaw County … and they tracked that individual to be Jacob Wilkinson,” Swanson said.

Wilkinson had assisted in the training of Habs, who was part of the blue star service training program in which inmates from the Michigan Department of Corrections assisted in the training of service dogs for veterans and police officers. He applied as a correctional officer for the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office in December, months after the dog was killed, and was employed on January 31.

He “never disclosed in his interview that he shot and killed a dog, that he tortured a dog” — not even during his psychological interview prior to his hiring, Swanson said.

Swanson said Wilkinson was detained on a charge of second-degree torturing or killing of an animal, a felony that is punishable by up to seven years in prison. 

Wilkinson was formally charged on Tuesday. According to court documents, his bond was set at $10,000, and he was prohibited from possessing or purchasing a handgun or other deadly weapon, as well as having contact with animals.

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