The Rhode Island SPCA has expanded its investigation of possible dog poisonings in the Governor Francis Farms neighborhood.
Since the Warwick Beacon carried a story last Thursday of the possible poisoning of six dogs, the RISPCA said three more people have stepped forward with possible cases.
Joe Warzycha from the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISCPA) said he has spoken with two of the six people who initially reported their dogs’ illnesses to a private investigator.
Warzycha is being tight-lipped about what new information he has garnered from his interviews, though he did say he had heard from three additional people since last week.
One of those three new cases, he said, was “unfounded” and unrelated to the others; he has not spoken with the other two people, yet.
Warzycha’s investigation comes after a series of reports were delivered to the RISPCA by a private investigator that looked into the possibly of related dog illnesses. Three of the six dogs that fell ill later died.
Those interviewed by the PI said they had all come into contact with the same person, and had walked their dogs near the person of interest’s home. After their altercations, four of the six received similar threatening letters signed with a fictitious name. Later, their pets fell ill or died from symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and hindquarter paralysis. Warzycha said the private investigator’s report included records of 20 complaints made by the suspect to police regarding neighbors’ pets.
The dogs were all from the same area of the Governor Francis Farms neighborhood, and cases date back to 2004. The last reported incident was in 2011.
Warzycha said in an interview last week that the bulk of the evidence was circumstantial, though he’s looking to garner enough evidence to move forward with a case against the person.
Some neighbors say the man snuck into people’s yards, but there are no witnesses to the actual poisonings.
In addition to interviewing the dog owners, Warzycha will also comb over the activity of the dogs to determine if it was possible they were left unattended long enough to be poisoned.
With no remains, it will be impossible to perform necropsies or blood tests to determine the cause of the deceased and ill dogs’ symptoms.
Capt. Joseph Coffey said last week there was not enough evidence to name a suspect. He also said a formal complaint needed to be issued by a citizen to the police in order to arrest someone for criminal activity.
If charges are brought and a suspect is found guilty, they would face penalties for “Malicious injury to or killing animals,” a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 or up to two years in prison.