Threatening letter left at Hebron home of owners of killed dog
By Amy LAvalley Post-Tribune correspondent December 14, 2012 4:06PM
Family photo of Ammie Roll with her dog Pearl. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
The Indiana branch of The Humane Society is offering a $2,600 reward for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of Pearl’s killer.
A fund also has been established at DeMotte State Bank to raise money for the same purpose. Donations can be made at any bank branch to the Humane Treatment of Animals fund.
Anyone with information on the case can call the Hebron Police Department at 996-2747.
Updated: December 15, 2012 10:23PM
HEBRON — Cheryl Alt and her younger daughters got their dog in the spring, after her oldest daughter’s friend couldn’t keep it any more.
They named the dog Pearl because it was white, with some variations in its coat, and it was about a year old. The dog, Alt said, was “exuberant.”
“It was a challenge for our family to train the dog,” Alt said, adding she walked the dog diligently and only chained it up outside in the backyard for fresh air.
Alt’s co-workers at Valparaiso University rounded up a leash, collar, crate and even a doghouse for Pearl, who Alt said looked a bit like a white German shepherd.
“She was beautiful and joyful and loved every person she saw,” Alt said. “Everyone she met, she wanted to kiss.”
The morning of Dec. 8, while Pearl was chained up outside and the family was in their home, someone set a trap in the yard that took Pearl’s life.
Police Chief Steven Sibbrell said it might be the same person who left copies of the town’s old animal nuisance ordinance on five dog owners’ residences or cars — including his, the town’s clerk-treasurer, and Alt’s — between Thursday evening and Friday morning.
A portion of the ordinance dealing with barking is circled in marker, and “Know the Law!” is written on the ordinance, along with an expletive.
The letter, Alt said, has really scared her; she found it in her yard Friday morning. Sibbrell said his letter was left on his car at his home while he was out of town Thursday, and his wife and children, who were home at the time, are upset.
“Is he sending a message — keep your dogs quiet or I’ll do the same thing?” Sibbrell said, wondering if the letter was meant to simply be a warning about barking dogs instead.
The ordinance that was distributed is about seven years old and has been updated since, Sibbrell said, adding his department has gotten a couple of leads on the case.
“I think it is the same person but I don’t know for sure until we catch the person,” he said.
Pearl was only chained up outside when someone was home, Alt said, adding that on that Saturday morning, she put the dog outside around 10 a.m. When she went back out to give it a treat around 11 a.m., Pearl was gone. Alt saw the dog in her neighbor’s yard, rolling around with its legs in the air.
“When I got closer, I saw it. It was that hideous trap, like a torture device,” Alt said, adding she called 911 and others who might be able to get it off Pearl’s head.
Hebron police said the dog suffocated from the trap, so Alt said it couldn’t have been on very long.
Sibbrell has said the trap was deliberately set; the perpetrator faces a charge of animal cruelty, and perhaps an additional charge of intimidation or provocation over the copies of the ordinance.
Police came to Alt’s house twice because people complained about Pearl’s barking. The first time an officer cam to the door, Alt asked what her options were, and the officer said if the dog wasn’t out barking late at night or early in the morning, it wouldn’t be an issue.
“Whoever did this was just hypersensitive or something. I don’t know,” Alt said, adding since she was home the morning Pearl was killed, the person could have just asked her to quiet the dog.
Regardless of how much of a nuisance Pearl’s barking was, Sibbrell said the dog didn’t need to die over it.
The growing attention over Pearl’s death is helping Alt and her daughters get through what is becoming a growing ordeal.
“It’s comforting to my kids that people are concerned,” she said. “It buffers the fact that a scary person came into our yard and killed our dog.”