Linda Burnett considered “Chance” and “Zane” her own children – they were always together. Toys and treats were regular items on the shopping list.
“They were my kids. For somebody to do it that way is unbelievable,” she said.
The Union woman’s 8-year-old Great Danes were found dead Saturday morning, and Union County deputies investigating the case say someone shot them both with a crossbow Friday night.
The crossbow killing is not the first incident of animal cruelty in Union County in recent weeks, and the growing trend has raised concerns among local law enforcement and animal control officials.
Deputies have handled 27 calls involving animals this year, according to statistics from the Union County Sheriff’s Office. The amount includes animal cruelty as well as stolen animal calls.
There were 16 cases throughout all of last year.
“It’s been an abnormal amount of calls this year,” Union County Sheriff David Taylor said. “It’s just horrible that somebody would do that to somebody’s pets.”
Burnett said her other dog “DJ” was shot by a gun Tuesday night. He was found with small wounds on his legs and face, but survived.
“I think that was a message I think when they found out they couldn’t kill it with bullets, they got the crossbow,” Burnett said. “It was definitely vengeance.”
She said she can only speculate that someone was bothered by the dogs’ barking.
“Still, to this day, I’m crying my eyes out,” she said Monday. “It’s hard to believe somebody can be that cold-hearted.”
Those responsible for the incident could face trespassing and malicious damage to personal property charges, said Taylor, who added that the sheriff’s office will file for as many charges as possible when a suspect is identified.
Neighbors said they were shocked to hear about the dogs being killed
“You didn’t see Linda without seeing the Great Danes. They were her babies,” said Lisa Betenbaugh, who lives across the street. “It’s so upsetting. It makes me wonder who would do that.”
In late-July, a Jonesville woman’s Husky mix was found dead under a storage building with four gunshot wounds, according to incident reports.
Earlier in July, a woman on Crockers Campground Road reported an animal poisoning and told deputies her black Labrador retriever had ingested antifreeze, a report states.
In June, a 23-year-old Union man was charged with ill treatment of animals after deputies found a severely injured pony that had been dragged by a vehicle about 100 yards in a roadway, according to an incident report.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office treats an animal killing similar to a homicide investigation, Taylor said. He said deputies checked for footprints and are testing the arrow for fingerprints in the crossbow case.
Taylor, who owns a Labrador retriever and cat, said he is disturbed by the increase in animal cruelty cases and is not sure what to make of the trend.
“We’ve lost respect for human life, and I guess animals fall in that same category,” he said. “I think that’s just a sign of the times we’re living in.”
Heather Sealy, director of the Union County Animal Control and Shelter, attributes the spike to a struggling economy, unemployment and additional stresses on peoples’ lives.
Unwanted animals can be housed at the shelter, Sealy said.
Those wishing to get rid of their dog or cat can call animal control at 864-429-2808.
She said she frequently brings animals into the shelter and will call in the sheriff’s office to investigate animal cruelty if she finds signs of abuse. Some beginning signs include malnourishment or noticeable injuries that have not healed due to lack of care, she said.
“It appalls me how people can get so careless,” she said. “There are some cold-hearted people out there.”