The numbers continue to grow.
In light of the Warwick Beacon story on the possible poisoning of six dogs in the Governor Francis Farms neighborhood, five additional residents have reported potentially linked cases.
Joe Warzycha, who heads up the animal cruelty division of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA), said in an interview yesterday that they now have 11 reports of potential dog poisonings. Of those 11, Warzycha has confirmed that 10 are related.
Warzycha said all of the cases were from the same general area of the Governor Francis Farms neighborhood. Five of the 10 cases resulted in the death of the animal.
At the time of the initial report, the cases dated from 2004 to 2011, with no cases reported this year. But Warzycha said that has since changed, and there is now a report of a dog that fell ill last month. The dog that was ill in July did not die, said Warzycha, and the last fatal case was in 2011.
Initial reports said the dogs that were potentially poisoned experienced similar symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and paralysis of their hindquarters.
Those whose dogs fell ill all reported altercations with the same person, a resident of the section of Governor Francis Farms that has been plagued with the dog deaths. Residents said their dogs had walked on or near the person of interest’s lawn before experiencing the similar symptoms.
Four of the initial six reported they received anonymous letters threatening their dog’s health. The letters, said Warzycha, were very similar in nature, though they were signed by fictitious names. None of the recent cases involved letters, only those cases from “way back when,” said Warzycha.
Both Warzycha and Captain Joseph Coffey of the Warwick Police Department confirmed that they would be meeting at the end of the week to discuss moving forward with the case and determine if they have enough evidence to press charges against the person of interest.
Coffey said they will make a decision by week’s end regarding their next step, but “doesn’t want to speculate” now about whether they have enough evidence to press charges.
Coffey called it an “active investigation” in which they are looking into potential felony charges.
Warzycha said the person of interest could face up to 10 counts of “malicious injury to or killing animals,” a felony punishable by a $1,000 maximum fine and up to two years in jail per count if found guilty.