Threats of drowning, if the kittens aren't taken. Vows to bash a dog's skull if nobody comes and gets it.
These are just some of the phone calls staff at the Pembina Valley Humane Society have taken in the eight years the shelter has operated. And as Altona RCMP probe a handful of suspicious incidents involving animals in the area, PVHS workers say that if a human culprit is to blame, it wouldn't be the first time someone in the area had taken their frustrations out on a dog.
"We're finding that people don't know what to do with unwanted animals, and stray animals," said Michelle Frost, the president of the Morden-based shelter. "This is what we see time and time again."
RCMP stressed that they were not calling the incidents a possible case of animal abuse, and that they were simply seeking more information about why one dog was lacerated, another dog owned by the same woman badly burned four days later, and corpses of a fox and coyote discovered skinned to the paws and dumped by a bridge in an unusual manner.
The PVHS found itself in the centre of a small media storm on Tuesday, after Altona RCMP put out a release about the troubling incidents. The non-profit agency, which is having the grand-opening of its new Morden shelter next month, had briefly taken in one of the dogs mentioned by the RCMP: a young golden retriever that was discovered wandering, its neck wrapped with twine and tied to a jug full of rocks designed to terrify it into running.
That exhausted dog was quickly returned to its owner, who had been searching for it since it went missing north of Horndean days earlier. "We know through the years, that there's a lot of stray animals in the community," Frost said. "It's possible somebody is trying to get this issue noticed... I think someone is just fed up, and is trying to take the issue into their own hands."
Gathered outside their brand-new Morden shelter on Tuesday afternoon, PVHS staff recalled an older case near Morden, where a litter of puppies was beaten, frozen to a train track and left to die. And only a few weeks ago, shelter staff took in a sturdy orange dog named Chili, who was struck by a bullet that passed clear through his neck. Incredibly, the bullet missed crucial arteries, and Chili now happily lollygags in shelter workers' arms.
Plum Coulee resident Val Siemens, whose two injured dogs kicked off the RCMP's concern in early March, also thinks that someone in the area is harming wandering animals. "This is not a pet-friendly area," Siemens said, after describing how her puppy named Rocky turned up in early March with deep slices on his belly after scrambling out of her high-fenced yard.