After Nantucket house party, dog found dead in washing machine

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Maddie Hanna
Globe Correspondent / July 25, 2008

A Yorkshire Terrier was found dead in a washing machine Wednesday, the day after one of its owners hosted a party at a Nantucket home, police said.

Police believe the 8-year-old, estimated 15-pound dog died when it was placed in a front-end washing machine and the machine turned on either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, said Detective Lieutenant Jerry Adams of the Nantucket police. He said a daughter of the family that owns the house at 194 Cliff Road, where the party took place, called police at 2:50 p.m. Wednesday and said she had found the dog in the machine.

Adams said police have no suspects and have not determined a motive.

The dog died ‘‘as a result of being placed in the washing machine,’’ Adams said, but he believed it happened during the wash cycle, based on the dog’s physical appearance.

Police are asking the host for a list of people who attended the party, Adams said. He said between 35 and 40 people were at the party, and he believes most were in their 20s.

He added that police had not been called to the party that evening.

Adams also said he did not remember investigating a similar case of animal abuse.

‘‘With a washing machine? Not my in recent memory,’’ he said.

Brian Adams, spokesman for the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center, which is helping Nantucket police with the investigation, also could not remember such a case. The allegations, if true, are extreme, he said.

But, he pointed out, the MSPCA frequently investigates other extreme cases.

‘‘The severity of the allegation is mindboggling, that someone might do that,’’ Brian Adams said. ‘‘We do see things like that often, unfortunately, because that’s what we do. We investigate severe crimes to animals.

‘‘I think to the general public, it does stand out as something they’ve never heard of or ever seen, and we’re here to tell them, that does go on. ... We’re trying to end it, and unfortunately, it goes on.’’

Brian Adams mentioned a kitten that recently had been burned in a microwave, as well as dogs that had been shot, hanged, or attacked with chain saws.

Violent abuse cases, like putting a dog through a washing machine, may happen because a person is sadistic, or making a cruel joke, Brian Adams said. He said the MSPCA recently partnered with Northeastern University on a study that found a correlation between violence toward animals and violence toward humans.

‘‘That would tell me it’s somebody who might be testing something out. They might have an emotion to people or animals, and they might be testing how to take that emotion out, but testing on animals first,’’ he said. ‘‘Some people, unfortunately, don’t take the life of an animal as seriously as they should.’’

The number of animal cruelty allegations investigated by the MSPCA has fluctuated over the past decade, Brian Adams said. In 1998, the society investigated 4,399 allegations of abuse. That number dropped in 2005 to 2,615, from where it rose, hitting 3,104 in 2007.

In Massachusetts, animal cruelty is punishable by up to five years in state prison or up to a $2,500 fine, Brian Adams said. It was a misdemeanor, but became a felony in 2004, he said.

Neighbors said many of the houses on Cliff Road are summer homes, and spaced far apart. They did not hear a party on Tuesday, they said, and did not know who hosted it. Still, they were upset upon learning of the incident with the dog.

‘‘That is just nasty,’’ said Sally Williams, who lives on Cliff Road.

‘‘You’re kidding,’’ said William Roberts, who also lives on Cliff Road. ‘‘God, it’s horrible.’’

As many cases as the MSPCA handles, Brian Adams said, the shock value does not wear off.

‘‘It does make you question humanity at times,’’ he said.

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