Oakland Co. investigating deaths of puppies found dead outside Pontiac shelter

The Detroit News
Michigan Animal Rescue League

Pontiac — A box containing seven dead puppies was discovered outside the front door of a Pontiac animal shelter Sunday morning, prompting a police investigation.

Magee Humes, executive director of the Michigan Animal Rescue League, said security footage shows someone driving to the shelter and leaving the puppies outside on Saturday night. 

They appeared to be deceased at that point. 

"Our guess is that they were (already dead) because of the way they were laid in the box, but it’s hard to tell because of how long they were there," Humes said. 

Ronald Shankin, Oakland County Animal Control supervisor, said Tuesday the man in the surveillance video came forward and told police the puppies had drowned in a sump pump. All but one pup that had fallen in was dead, he told police 

On Tuesday, county officials said one of the puppies's bodies has been sent to Michigan State University to be analyzed to determine the cause of death.

“Right now, the investigation is in its preliminary stages,” Bob Gatt, manager of the Oakland County Animal Control Division, said in a statement Tuesday. “We will gather and follow the facts wherever they lead. If it appears there was any wrongdoing, then we will decide at that point on the appropriate next steps to take.”

Shankin concurred: "Right now, we have to wait on the results of the necropsy," he said. "A big part of this is what the pathologist is going to tell us. If it is different, then we would continue to question to see why there is an inconsistency."

Police were not releasing the suspect's name. 

Overnight lows on Saturday reached 28 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. 

She said it is hard to tell how old the puppies were, but she is hoping the Oakland County Sheriff's Office animal control division will do an exam to find the cause of death and any other details that could help in the case. 

Humes advises pet owners who are "in over their heads" with animals — including new litters — to get them to a shelter right away. 

"Leaving them out overnight isn't the answer," she said. "If this person was trying to get them help, it obviously didn't work."

As for potential charges, Shankin said the intentional killing of an animal is a crime and could result in jail time.