By Jeff Wagner

BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (WCCO) — A family in western Wisconsin say they found their beloved dog shot and mutilated near their home. Now the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the mysterious death.

Nine-year old-Sally, a black Labrador, was found dead in a ditch along the 1800 block of 120th Avenue the morning of Nov. 25.

The dog’s owner, Matt Murphy, initially thought a car hit her until he saw her wounds up close.

“I have really no words. It’s just indescribable,” Maxine Florer, Murphy’s mother, said.

The frustration and fear hasn’t stopped for her, even more than week after she learned not only that her son’s dog Sally had died, but how it happened.

Murphy said Sally was let outside at night but never came back. When they found her dead the next morning near a road they assumed a car hit her.

“I was on my way over. My son called me and he said ‘Mom, she was shot’,” Florer said.

Florer, who has hunting experience, analyzed the wound which she said was on the Sally’s hindquarters.

“It was clean, it was big, and there was no exit wound. I knew immediately it was a high powered deer rifle,” she said.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Chad Roberts said it’s unclear at the moment if a crime was committed, however the dog’s manner of death is worth investigating.

“If an animal’s hit by a car and then it’s in agonizing pain and somebody puts it down, that’s understandable. That’s not necessarily cruelty. But typically when you do that you would shoot it in the head,” Roberts said.

Florer said Sally’s collar was also destroyed and her body slashed like someone trying to skin a deer.

Murphy described it in a statement:

“Large sections of her body had been skinned and mutilated. Sally had been wearing a collar with an electronic monitor, which was missing. I later found her collar smashed and thrown in the ditch on the opposite side of the road about 100 yards from where I found her laying.”

“My family feels unsafe,” Florer said. “They’ve been there nine years. Little Russell was scared to go outside.”

dsc 0647 Wis. Family Finds Dog Shot, Mutilated Near Their Home

(credit: CBS)

Russell, her seven-year-old grandson, and Sally were inseparable. Murphy wrote in his statement, “they spent every day together. When we buried Sally, my son gathered up the tennis balls she loved to fetch and placed them in her grave alongside her. Not only is he heartbroken and angry that his best friend has so viciously been ripped away from him, but he is afraid now.”

Florer describes Sally as gentle, shy, and afraid of most men. She didn’t bark or growl at people. All the more reason why Sally’s death has left her family confused and demanding a deeper investigation.

“They tell you to be vigilant and alert and to look for signs. This is beyond somebody just accidentally hitting a dog and leaving it to die,” she said.

Although Sally has been buried, Florer said they’re willing to dig up her body in order for her wounds to be investigated.

Roberts said a further examination, such as an autopsy, is possible.

Jeff Wagner

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