The Gila County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a disturbing case of animal cruelty east of Payson.
On Monday, Sept. 21, campers at the Ponderosa Campground found the bodies of five adult dogs and one puppy in the woods south of the campground.
They reportedly smelled something decomposing and upon inspection, found the dogs lying behind a downed log just off Forest Road 331, said Deputy Chris Sanks with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office.
Sanks says it appears the dogs were killed off-site and their bodies dumped in the forest. Several of the dogs appeared to have been shot.
The adult dogs ranged in size from 50 to 80 pounds and were of various breeds. There was a mix of pit bulls and Australian cattle dogs, Sanks said.
He believes the dogs had been there for several days.
The dogs were not wearing collars or tags and were not microchipped.
Sanks said they have no leads and are looking for any information that may lead to the arrest of whoever killed and then dumped the dogs.
Besides GCSO, the local humane society and Gila County animal control responded.
Marsha Crabtree posted on Facebook that she also responded to the scene to help.
She posted that it appeared it was two border collie mixes, two pit pulls and one Catahoula mix as well as a mix breed puppy.
“I can share that whoever did this selfish, inhumane act, is still being pursued and legal action may follow if caught,” she wrote. “These were healthy dogs. All this person had to do was reach out and placement could have been made. Please let this be a lesson for all; these sweethearts deserved better.”
Sanks said they located the skeleton of another animal in the area. He said it appears to have been a dog as well.
“I am an animal lover and this was a very disturbing scene,” he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the GCSO at 928-474-2208.