Regal dogs stolen amid mistreatment claim |

Regal dogs stolen amid mistreatment claim

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

In a peculiar case involving two dogs of a sought-after breed, a woman took the animals from a man she had given them to, claiming that he was mistreating them, the authorities said.

The two are Bernese mountain dogs, regal animals that are recognizable by their large size and the black, white and brown color pattern of their fur.

According to a report by Summit County Animal Control, the woman acknowledged to officers she had taken the dogs on July 24 from the Thaynes Canyon yard of the owner and wanted the new owner charged with animal cruelty. The report says she visits the dogs frequently and saw one of the dogs had porcupine quills in its face.

The woman and the dog owner had been neighbors, and the woman now lives in Pinebrook. The owner had allowed the woman to visit the dogs, and she went to the owner’s house periodically, said Phil Kirk, a Park City Police Department captain.

The dog "was in pain," the woman claimed before taking both of them to a veterinarian, according to the authorities. The veterinarian told her the dog had quills in its gums and inside its mouth, and they had been there for at least three days, the report said.

After hearing from the veterinarian, the woman decided she would not return the dogs and called the authorities. They were returned to the man under threat of arrest, however, according to the Animal Control report.

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An Animal Control officer contacted the owner, who acknowledged he was aware of one quill stuck in the dog’s face, the report said. The owner told the officer he expected the quill would eventually fall out, but he planned to take the dog to a veterinarian that day. The owner told the officer the case was a "misunderstanding."

The woman told the officer she wanted the dogs checked on periodically and asked to be told if there were more problems. She told the authorities she did not want to receive a ticket. The owner declined to press charges. An Animal Control officer retrieved the dogs and took them to the owner.

"She’s wrong. If there’s an issue with the animal, the person needs to report that to Animal Control," said Rick Ryan, another Police Department captain. "To go and just take them because they believe they’re being neglected doesn’t give them the right to do that."

The Police Department received a report about the case at 7:44 a.m. on July 24, Pioneer Day, indicating that somebody had stolen the two dogs. Ryan said he cannot recall a similar case during his 24 years with the Police Department.

The woman did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. The dog owner declined to comment about the case.

The American Kennel Club describes Bernese mountain dogs as being a "hardy dog that thrives in cold weather." The dogs are "self-confident, alert and good-natured, never sharp or shy," the Kennel Club says, indicating the dogs, with origins in Switzerland, are also intelligent, strong and with enough agility for work in the mountains.

Vicky Hall, a Salt Lake City member of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America and the owner of two of the dogs, said the breed’s popularity in Utah is increasing. The dogs can cost between $400 and $3,000, she said, depending on the breeder. It is a "very beautiful breed," she said.

Hall said people buy puppies because they are cute, but the dogs grow to their large size. They also shed heavily, she said.

"It’s the impulse-buying thing," she said about people who purchase puppies not realizing the dogs will be so large later.