Dog shot in Soldotna animal-cruelty case is in recovery with rescuers

two women and a dog
Kelly Griebel (left), a shot dog dubbed Ace and Jesse Hughes (right), the motorist who spotted him. (Courtesy photo)

Alaska State Troopers charged a Soldotna man last week with one count of cruelty to animals after they say he shot his dog in an attempt to euthanize it. The dog, which was later spotted by a motorist, was brought in for emergency surgery and is expected to survive.

On Feb. 25, troopers responded to Mile 10 of Funny River Road in Soldotna after a husky was spotted with tape around its muzzle and blood on its back thigh. Troopers say their investigation revealed the dog had been shot by its owner, 63-year-old Sam Allen Renney of Soldotna, the day before. Troopers say the dog had a history of aggressive behavior, and that it had bit Renney.

The husky, dubbed Ace by rescuers, was brought to Kenai Veterinary Hospital by the motorist who spotted him and underwent emergency surgery. According to troopers, bone and bullet fragments were removed from Ace’s hip.

Kelly Griebel, a co-founder of the animal fostering network Kenai Peninsula Animal Lovers Rescue, or KPAL, an animal fostering network, has been working with Ace since first hearing about the incident.

“I posted something on Facebook immediately on Sunday,” Griebel said. “Because number one, whose dog is this? Number two, what kind of heartless person would do something to an animal?”

KPAL organized a fundraiser to pay for Ace’s $3,000 surgery and reached its goal within a few hours. After surgery, troopers told Griebel the owner came to pick Ace up from the veterinary office. She said the vet had no say and was forced to return him.

“When I found out, I unleashed,” she said. “I was on the phone with the trooper for probably 30 minutes just absolutely sobbing, begging “Is there anything that can be done?” So I just took to Facebook, ‘Anyone who knows this man please reach out to him and beg him not to kill this dog. Please, we have somewhere safe for this dog to go, he doesn’t have to do this.’”

a dog
A closer view of Ace (Courtesy photo)

According to Griebel, troopers executed a search warrant Tuesday and seized Ace from his owner. He was relocated to a foster home. A second dog was located on the premises but was not seized because he was healthy and without injury. Griebel said neither of the dogs had been neutered and would roam the neighborhood without their owner.

On Thursday, Ace was evaluated by certified animal therapist and dog trainer Ellen Adlam.

“He’s just a young guy with no socialization, with no social skills, and doesn’t know quite how to act,” Adlam said. “I am by no means saying he did not bite his owner, that absolutely could’ve been the case, but why he did that, we don’t know because we don’t have all the facts. I do know that he’s a young dog and young dogs often will nip or bite in fear, but I don’t consider him to be a high-bite-risk kind of guy.”

Even though he’ll need some training, Adlam said Ace was appropriately behaved during their interaction and did not show any signs of aggression. While he is expected to recover, Adlam said he’ll likely have to deal with his injuries for life.

“The bottom line is this could’ve been a prevented situation. People don’t necessarily like to talk about when they’re overwhelmed with their dogs or if there’s a problem, and it would be great if there was some sort of a resource where people had a chance to talk about it,” she said. “We need to bring awareness to the fact that we need to take care of our animals, we have them and we need to work through it. They’re part of your family.”

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