Feb. 25 2015 12:00 AM

Bath Township police at a loss to find person who left puppy to freeze to death


The nightmare doesn’t leave her head: the puppy shivering, whimpering, maybe barking till it was voiceless in below-freezing temperatures, sitting in its own feces and trapped in a crate.

It can’t fend for itself, feed itself or free itself. “I couldn’t sleep the first two nights thinking about this dog crying in the woods,” said Kristine Gilbert-Gigante, 34, of Lansing.

This is the way a young, pit bull terrier puppy died at the entrance to the Rose Lake State Wildlife Research Area. It was found as the Gigante family was preparing to go for a Sunday afternoon hike Jan. 25 with 12-year-old daughter Ada Gilbert, 7-year-old twins Lenny and Nora, and their dogs.

“We got out of the car,” said Gilbert-Gigante, owner of the Root Cellar Salon in Delta Township. “I saw a crate. It didn’t cross my mind that something bad would be there. Before I could stop my kids from getting out of the car, my daughter ran over there. She was bawling her eyes out yelling ‘It’s a dead puppy. It’s frozen.’”

Gilbert-Gigante said she had to use her phone to locate exactly where they were, then tried the Clinton County Animal Control but it was closed on Sunday. They called 911 and a Bath Township police officer came to the scene.

Gilbert-Gigante said it appeared someone had found the dog before them, opening the cage and letting it out but it was too far gone.

The crate was full of feces and the dog was covered in it.

“It was pretty disturbing,” she said.

Bath Township Det. Sgt. Gary Smith said the case remains open.

“We did get a couple of leads, but they didn’t really pan out,” he said. “If anybody has any idea whose dog it is, we’d love to hear it.”

He said Clinton County Animal Control scanned the dog for a microchip but didn’t find one.

“This is cruelty,” he said. “It looks like it was left to die there.

It’s pretty rare.”

He said investigators are circulating pictures of the dog in hopes of triggering someone’s memory or conscience.

He said there’s no way of knowing how long the dog was there.

“It’s hard to say what really happened,” Gilbert-Gigante said.

“This person put the dog in the crate and left it there.”

Smith echoed Gilbert-Gigante. “It does appear to be animal cruelty,” Smith said. “But depending on the circumstances … until you identify the defendant and hear their statement, you never know. But it appears to be animal cruelty for sure. Tie a dog up to a crate and leave it in this cold with no food or water.”

Gilbert-Gigante said she calls the Bath Township police once a week to check on progress.

“I think it’s getting the picture out there,” she said. Yes, she took pictures and shared them on Facebook. Some people recoiled at the images asking her to take them down.

She took some down, but continues to post the photos in hopes of finding who is responsible.

“All it takes is one person who saw the dog in their neighbor’s yard,” she said. “It has such distinct markings on it.”

She said posting on Facebook also shows her children a proactive approach toward trying to find out who did the crime.

“There are disclaimers that the pictures are disturbing,” she said. “There’s no blood, just a frozen dog. People said it’s awful and I don’t want my kids to see this. But guess what? My kids did see this.”

She said the memory “is not something you can erase.”

“I mean it really bothers me to my core that someone can do this to an animal,” she said. “A lot of people abandon dogs. This is not an abandoned dog. This is someone who tortured this dog. ...This is a person with an intention to kill this dog.”

Gilbert-Gigante said this case is a clear example why a law like Logan’s Law is needed.

Logan´s Law would initiate the creation of a Michigan Animal Abusers Registry. It has passed the state House. A vote slated for Feb. 10 was delayed in the Senate.

Animal cruelty is a felony that carries a penalty of up to four years in prison. The bills would increase prison time to up to 10 years if the animal was a pet and the defendant killed it to hurt or threaten another person.

The bills also would make a registry of those convicted of animal abuse and require any animal shelter to refuse sale or adoption of an animal to anyone on the list. Anyone convicted of animal abuse would be put in the Michigan State Police Internet Criminal History Access Tool database. Any state licensed animal care shelter would be required to check the ICHAT database before allowing the adoption of an animal. They could refuse adoption to anyone convicted of animal abuse for a minimum of five years.

The law is named after Logan, a Siberian Husky, that died from complications after he was attacked with acid thrown onto his face. His owners Matt and Nancy Falk, of Goodells, began their effort to hold animal abusers accountable for their actions.

If Bath or Clinton County investigators find the person who left the dog, he or she would never be able to adopt a pet in Michigan if and when Logan’s Law is passed.

“Nothing would make me happier than finding this asshole,” Gilbert-Gigante said.

If you have information about the puppy found frozen to death Jan. 25 at the Rose Lake State Wildlife Research Area Jan. 25, contact Bath Township Police, 517-641-6271