CAMDEN — The Camden Sheriff’s Office is investigating the mysterious deaths of 19 dogs and the animals’ owner is offering a $10,000 reward for information in the case.
The dogs were the property of Jamie Sanders of N.C. Highway 343 North in Camden. According to social media posts, Sanders is attributing the dogs’ death to poisoning, but law enforcement authorities are still awaiting information from tissue samples before stating how the animals died.
“We’re not really sure what caused the dogs’ death,” Camden Sheriff Kevin Jones said Monday.
But Jones acknowledged that the sudden deaths of 18 hunting dogs, plus one puppy who was a household pet, seem suspicious.
“We are certainly looking at this as a suspicious death of several hunting dogs,” he said.
The animals’ deaths came less than a week after an incident at Sanders’ home in which Sanders and another person were engaged in a property dispute. One of the deputies who responded to the June 24 incident deployed a Taser weapon against Sanders before handcuffing and arresting him.
According to Deputy Luke Marcum’s report of the incident, Sanders was charged with assault on a government officer and released on $5,000 unsecured bond. Marcum’s use of force against Sanders is currently being investigated by the Camden Sheriff’s Office, Jones said last week.
Asked Monday if the deaths of the dogs is related somehow to the June 24 dispute, Jones said it’s too early in the investigation to say. Jones noted the sheriff’s office is still waiting for a cause of death to be determined for the dogs.
Jones said Sanders found one of his hunting dogs dead in a pen around 5:50 p.m. on June 29. Sanders reported he had used the dog the previous day and it had been fine then, Jones said.
The incident was reported as a suspicious death of a dog, according to Jones.
Then on July 1 around 4 p.m. Sanders reported three more dogs had died and two others were in dire straits, Jones said.
The dogs were taken to Pasquotank Animal Hospital, and a tissue sample was taken from one of the dead dogs. The two seriously ill dogs later died and tissue samples were taken from them as well, according to Jones.
“We’re waiting on the results to come back from those tissue tests,” Jones said.
Jones said he believes Sanders may have lost his entire hound stock. Deputies are treating his dog pen as a crime scene and investigators have begun conducting interviews, he said.
The Albemarle Houndsmen Association, meanwhile, has posted on social media that a $10,000 reward is being offered in the case.
Bobby Harris, the association’s president, said the reward is actually being offered by Sanders but the association is helping spread the word about the reward.
In addition, the association is offering a $500 reward, which Harris said is customary when a hound is harmed or stolen.
According to Harris, Sanders’ loss of 18 hunting dogs is one of the worst cases of mass dog death in the association’s 25 years of existence.
About 12 years ago there was a case in Tyrrell County in which as many dogs, or possibly a few more, were killed, Harris said. There have been previous incidents in Camden in which dogs were killed but he could not recall another that included as many dogs.
Harris said he hopes the case is solved soon. He said when something like this happens it causes him to keep a closer-than-usual eye on his own dogs.
Jones said he appreciated the reward being offered.
“It was certainly a nice gesture and could probably help us,” he said.