By JOSH NEWTON
Cherokee County sheriff’s investigators are looking into the killing of a pit bulldog that quickly outraged people across the globe on Friday.
Officials are also trying to send a strong message to those who have threatened the teen allegedly responsible for killing the dog: All threats will be investigated and could be prosecuted.
The dog’s death came to light Thursday when 18-year-old Caisen Green, who reportedly lives in the Cookson area and has been acknowledged for his athletic ability at Sequoyah Schools, posted a photograph on his Facebook page of a dead pit bulldog, which he apparently had shot and killed with an arrow.
In his post, Green explained the photo was “for all you Pit lovers out there.”
“Here’s what happens when one shows up around my house,” the teenager wrote, according to a screenshot of the post that was emailed to the Daily Press.
That message and photo was eventually shared with the Humane Society of Cherokee County, which provided the information to the Daily Press.
It was also shared with many others, and Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said Saturday that authorities have received numerous calls about the incident from local residents, as well as people in other states, and countries across the world.
“An additional Facebook account was created about the incident by unknown persons,” said Chennault. “On this second Facebook page, posters have threatened to do bodily harm to Green and his family. The concern over the fatal shooting of the animal is understood, but please refrain from making any threats against Green or the Green family. Those threats will also be investigated and the people making the threats may be subject to prosecution.”
Green’s original Facebook post appeared to be made at around 9 p.m. Thursday, and was picked up almost immediately by an animal rights page called Pet Pardons. That post was shared nearly 2,800 times before the original photo was taken down, presumably by Green.
The Pet Pardons wall – www.facebook.colm/petpardons – had already received nearly 6,000 comments as of Saturday at around 1 p.m., many of them expressing the wish that Green be harmed. Several were asking that the student be expelled from school, and at least three demanded that the Daily Press remove from its website past stories of Green’s athletic accomplishments. The sharing of a copy of the photo continued although Green’s original post had been taken down.
Chennault confirmed he and Deputy Dexter Scott are investigating the fatal shooting of the dog. The undersheriff is asking those who are concerned about the incident to stop calling the sheriff’s office; calls have flooded the phone lines, and authorities are already looking into the matter.
Chennault said authorities have contacted the Green family, but Caisen himself had been unavailable for an interview as of Saturday afternoon.
“This matter will be fully investigated and a prosecution report will be forwarded to the District Attorney when the investigation is complete,” Chennault said.
Lou Hays, who volunteers with the Humane Society of Cherokee County, said the post upset locals not just because the animal is a pit bull, but because of the act itself.
Hays said Caisen Green apparently killed the dog only because of its breed, and didn’t indicate the animal had been aggressive toward anyone or anything.
“A boy who would needlessly kill a dog, post a morbid picture of the dead dog on Facebook, then boastfully taunt dog lovers needs counseling,” said Hays. “This young man would greatly benefit from a few dozen hours of community service at an animal shelter. I would point out that on his post, all he did was brag about it; he did not say the animal was causing any trouble other than just showing up, being near his house.”
A series of messages between the teen and an HSCC volunteer includes Green’s admission that he shot the dog.
Green on Friday sent follow-up messages to one HSCC volunteer and asked what it would take to “make this all go away.”
“I still don’t think what I did was wrong, but I’ve put my parents through enough these past couple years,” he wrote, according to a copy of the discussion emailed to the Press. “I don’t wanna put them [through] this, too. If I can volunteer for [something] or community service for [you all], I will. Just give me [something] I can do to make things all go away.”
Hays said he plans to visit with the District Attorney’s Office to see whether grounds exist for an animal cruelty charge.
“We want to discourage other people from doing this,” said Hays. “This looks to be pretty egregious animal cruelty. If we pursue this, it might save some animals’ lives later on, and that’s our main purpose.”
Hays said he hopes to get the student to volunteer for about 50 hours at the HSCC shelter to help teach him compassion for disadvantaged animals, including pit bulls.