A pair of dogs facing death sentences in Lewis County for massacring a herd of alpacas were busted loose from the animal shelter last week, but the escape was short-lived, and both pooches ended up back in the slammer, along with their master.
The story begins in December 2010 in rural Centralia, Washington. Greg Welsh, owner of a small alpaca herd, walked out one morning to a bloodbath. A female pit bull and a male rottweiler owned by his neighbor Terry Petrich allegedly went beserk and attacked Welsh's animals. By the time Lewis County sheriffs deputies arrived at the scene, six of the llama-like creatures lay dead, and several others were severely injured. Some of the alpacas had reportedly been partially dismembered, and the survivors suffered bites on their noses, heads, flanks and genitalia.
"They've already tasted blood and nothing will stop them now," Welsh told newscasters from KIRO last week. "Those dogs are tainted. They've tasted blood and that's the end of it. They need to be put down."
The County declared the canines, named Whitney and Max, "dangerous dogs," and Petrich, the owner of a local tree trimming business, was issued a citation for "prohibited activities by dogs." The pooches were impounded in April, and essentially sentenced to death. According to the Lewis County Sirens crime blog, the only way "dangerous dogs" can avoid being put down is for the owner to secure $250,000 in liability insurance, keep the dogs in a six-sided pen, microchip them for identification and pay a $50 registration fee to the County. Petrich could have appealed the ruling, but he reportedly skipped out on two court appearances.
But, on the eve of their scheduled lethal injection, Whitney and Max disappeared from the animal shelter where they were locked up. An unidentified someone cut a hole in the chain-link fence kennel, allowing the dogs to escape.
When Petrich's next-door neighbors heard barking coming from the back yard a few days later, they suspected the obvious and called the police. According to court documents, two Sheriffs deputies climbed a tree in the neighbor's backyard and spotted the missing dogs hidden in a sheet metal enclosure in a wooded area in the rear of Petrich's property.
When confronted, Petrich's girlfriend Estara Bojorquez claimed the dogs magically "showed up at midnight at her back door." Bojorquez reportedly admitted that she lied to detectives when they came looking for Petrich the night after his dogs went on the lam by saying she hadn't seen him lately. Bojorquez now faces criminal charges for possession of stolen property and rendering criminal assistance.
Petrich was finally picked up Saturday night, but not in official connection with the animal shelter jailbreak. According to Lewis County Sheriff spokeswoman Stacy Brown, Petrich had an outstanding warrant for possession of methamphetamine. Brown says there's no proof Petrich is responsible for the animal shelter escape, but they have a hunch he's the culprit.
"We are still investigating," Brown says. "At this point we don't have probable cause to believe he is the one who took the dogs. It's a good supsicion, but we don't have anything to prove it was him."
After the fleeting reprieve, Petrich's dogs were moved to an undisclosed location -- not the animal shelter -- and put to sleep Friday evening. Their last meal was reportedly cheeseburgers and ice cream.