Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Unknown dog found dehydrated, with a broken jaw, several puncture wound on neck, hanging from bridge, shot in the face

Sibley, IL
Ford County

April 20, 2016  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
    1 male chocolate labrador mix Open  

  Photo provided

Bear was found suffering from dehydration, a broken jaw and several puncture wounds down the side of his neck.

In his 15 years as Ford County's animal control officer, Darrell Foster had never seen a case of animal cruelty as shocking as the one he came across last week. "It's heinous," Foster said."I've seen a lot of different stuff, but this one just kind of really, really hit me."

Mark Gillespie said he was walking his dog near an old bridge about 4 miles west of Sibley on the morning of April 20th, when he came across a scene that still makes him sick to his stomach.  "As soon as (my dog) got out of the truck, he ran down by the bridge and sat down and started howling," Gillespie said. "Sure enough, there was a dog down there."

Gillespie said he found a male labrador mix "barely alive," dangling from a red leash tied to one of the bridge's posts. The leash was just long enough for the dog to stand in place but not move. The animal had a "choker" chain collar around its neck, and its muzzle was wrapped with electrical tape, presumably so no one could hear it barking, Gillespie said.

Gillespie immediately recognized "Bear," the dog that belonged to his next-door neighbor in Sibley.  "I called to him," Gillespie said, "and he just kind of looked around but couldn't see because his eyes were shut (and he couldn't open them). It was obvious that he was whipped, that somebody had beat the crap out of him."

When Foster arrived at the scene, he took the dog to Daisy Mae Kennels in rural Paxton, where its condition was monitored. A gofundme.com account, set up by Angie Cleary of rural Paxton, raised more than $5,000 toward the animal's medical costs "within 24 hours," Cleary said.  Those funds were used to have the dog transferred to the University of Illinois veterinary clinic, where it was expected to undergo a "full body scan", Foster said.

According to June Bane, manager of Daisy Mae Kennels, in addition to dehydration, the dog has a broken jaw and "several puncture wounds down the side of his neck." The broken jaw could be 1 reason that the dog has not eaten anything since being dropped off at the UI clinic, Bane said.  In addition to its injuries, Foster said, the dog was found with eye and mange infections — two issues that likely were not caused by it being left at the bridge.

Foster confirmed the dog's owners through animal control records. The owners' names were redacted from an incident report written by Ford County sheriff's Lt. Curt Miller. The report was provided to the Ford County Record by the sheriff's office.

Miller said in the report that he first spoke with 1 of the dog's owners, a woman, who told Miller that her husband was at work. "When asked why her dog was found tied to a bridge, she said, 'I just got home,'" Miller said. "I asked her a second time about her dog, at which time she stated she did not know it was tied to a bridge but knew the dog was missing. When asked if she reported the dog as missing, she said she did not. I continued asking (her) questions, but she continued to tell me 'I don't know' and 'I just got home' to all questions concerning her dog."

Later, Miller spoke with the husband, who claimed the dog went missing during the evening of April 19 — the day before it was found. "According to (the husband), he thought that Bear got loose off his chain and would be back in the morning," Miller said. "The next morning (he) stated he looked around town for his dog but did not find it and then went to work as usual."

Miller noted that during his conversations with the dog's owners, "neither one asked how their dog was doing or where their dog was at," "neither showed any concern about the dog's well being," "neither seemed surprised or upset that their dog was found tied to a bridge," and "neither asked how to get their dog back."

Sheriff Mark Doran said the investigation continues into last week's incident, but whether State's Attorney Randy Yedinak files charges remains to be seen. "Trying to prove that (the owner) is the person responsible for the mistreatment of the animal is difficult," Doran said. "It is not that we are not pursuing charges. We have sent information to the state's attorney for review of charges. However, this is not a civil matter; this is a criminal matter. To get a conviction in a criminal matter, the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the owner or anyone else was guilty of the animal cruelty."

Gillespie said the perpetrator should be charged in criminal court. At the very least, "I hope they make him pay the doctor bill for the dog, which, from what I understand, has exceeded $10,000 already."  "I'm so distraught by it," Gillespie said. "I'm going to start tearing up right now talking to you about it."  So far the gofundme page has raised 7,500 for Bears medical care.

Bear continues to recover from his numerous injuries and maladies. According to his GoFundMe account, in addition to being taped up and hanged, he was shot in the face.

Those interested in seeing justice for Bear are asked to respectfully reach out to the Ford County State's Attorney:
Randy A. Yedinak
200 W. State Room 204
Paxton, IL 60957
Phone: 217 379-9460
Fax: 217 379-9464
Office Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Update 4/26/16:
Additional information of how the dog was found has come to light.  The dog's muzzle was wrapped with electrical tape; obviously to keep him from barking and from anyone finding him. Te dog's face and eyes were so swollen from having been beaten, the dog could barely to his rescuer.

Bear suffers from a broken jaw, dehydration, mange, eye infections. Bear's latest update read:

"Bear was shot in the face; the puncture holes we thought were from his collar were actually from the gun shot. He has multiple fractures on the left side of his head and jaw, the scan showed fragments everywhere. We will be talking to a surgeon tomorrow to discuss what our options are. We honestly, at this point don't know if the funds we have will be enough for this extensive of a surgery, but we should find out tomorrow. On a positive note Bear did come out of his cage today and lay down for a belly rub; that is the first emotion he has shown since this incident. With that being said no one is giving up hope he just needs all the positive thoughts he can get."

Bear's owners have since been found and contended the dog had been missing since April 19 stating the dog "got loose from his chain and would be back in the morning." When Bear didn't return, the owner stated he looked for his dog, couldn't find him and went to work. Neither the dog's owner or his wife have shown any concern about their dog. It is not known if the owners will be charged with animal cruelty, however Sheriff Mark Doran stated it would be very difficult to prove they were responsible for Bear's injuries.

"It is not that we are not pursuing charges. We have sent information to the state's attorney for review of charges, " stated the sheriff.


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