SANTAQUIN — Police are investigating whether a dog at the center of a controversy involving a city ordinance and euthanasia was recently poisoned.
Dexter, a 5-year-old Australian shepherd, was taken to West Mountain Veterinary Hospital in Payson on Nov. 1 after owner Lindsy Bray noticed bloody diarrhea and vomiting.
"The veterinarian’s report stated that the dog’s symptoms suggested possible ingestion of d-CON or rat poison," according to a statement from the Humane Society of Utah.
"Please pray for Dexter. I just took him to the vet. He has been pooping blood and vomiting all afternoon! The vet is keeping him for the next 3 days but our hearts are broken and our house already feels empty and our poor puppy is super sick," Bray posted on the Facebook page Saving Dexter.
On Nov. 3, Dexter was released from the hospital and is "back to his old self," Bray posted.
But the investigation into what happened to Dexter is continuing. Bray said her property does not have rats and her family has never bought rat poison.
The Humane Society is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.
Dexter has been at the center of a controversial Santaquin law for over a year.
On Oct. 20, 2016, Dexter got out of his fenced backyard while the family wasn't home, and according to a police report, bit a 12-year-old girl. The report noted "the bite did not break any skin" and left a small white mark.
But under current Santaquin law, a "vicious" dog is defined as one that has "bitten, clawed, attacked, chased, harassed, pursued, or worried a person without provocation."
The city of Santaquin filed charges against Bray in January. She was found guilty and the mandatory sentence for Dexter is euthanasia.
The Humane Society is currently challenging that sentence in 4th District Court.
"The Humane Society of Utah and Bray contend that the city ordinance’s vague definitions, lack of viable defenses, and mandatory death of a beloved pet combine to deprive the dog’s owner of her constitutional rights," according to a statement from the Humane Society.
"According to the existing ordinance, the definition of an attacking dog is so vague and ambiguous that a person could be cited for playing chase with their dog or being scratched by an overeager canine," the statement says. "Bray also contends that the ordinance offers a limited defense to a charge. Theoretically, if a dog attacked a mugger off the owner’s property and defended the owner, the dog would be sentenced to death."
Proposed changes to amend the city’s animal control ordinance were voted down 3-2 in a September Santaquin City Council meeting.
Recently, Bray posted a message on Facebook on the one-year anniversary of the the incident.Comment on this story
"I never would have imagined how this would change my life. Honestly I can’t even be mad about the situation, this has taught me so much. I have met the most amazing, loving, caring, and supportive people ever!" she wrote. "Our life this past year has been very different. I have spent many hours in court, City Council meetings, and lots of other random things that I wouldn’t normally do but I’m very grateful for the experience! My hope is that no other family will have to feel the the pain of this horrible ordinance!"
The next court hearing for Bray's appeal is scheduled for Dec. 11.