Two Kasilof residents have been arrested after Alaska State Troopers say they left multiple dogs outside in recent subzero temperatures, with one of them freezing to death.
Troopers say Heather Harris, 36, and Harley Potter, 42, each face two felony counts of cruelty to animals.
According to charging documents in the case, troopers got a call in late January about neglected dogs at a property in Kasilof. The caller believed the residents had moved out and left dogs behind. Troopers visited the house, which appeared abandoned, and found a dead dog inside a kennel with a chain affixing it to a tree in the yard.
In the days prior to the investigation, troopers said Kasilof-area low temperatures had consistently passed 15 degrees below zero.
The original caller provided photos of another dog on the property, also emaciated. A neighbor also told troopers that eight dogs and a litter of puppies had been rescued from the house a day earlier.
“There was no food or water found in the dog bowls on the property and there were numerous chains affixed to trees where the rescued dogs were located,” troopers said in an online dispatch about the case.
A veterinarian from Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic in Soldotna conducted an exam of the dog that had died, and discovered it was a young male. She determined the dog was otherwise healthy, and likely died of malnourishment and hypothermia.
“AST later learned the dog’s name was Lee,” troopers said in the dispatch.
Several days later, troopers said they contacted Harris and Potter, the property’s residents, at a different address. Harris allegedly told a trooper they had visited their home a few days ago and noticed the dogs were gone, and identified one of the rescue dogs as hers from a photograph.
Harris and Potter were initially held at the Wildwood Correctional Center. Each animal-cruelty count carries a penalty of up to $50,000 and five years in prison.