By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – A 68-year-old Chehalis man has contacted an attorney after retrieving his dog from the city animal shelter and finding it had a broken jaw.
Bruce Beauregard is both steaming mad and broken hearted about his 6-year-old Dachshund-mix he called Rowdy.
Beauregard was alarmed when the police officer sent to collect his pet said the dog was aggressive so he “offered him his boot” and then horrified when he saw his dog sitting in the kennel with his head hanging down and his face smashed up. He said he was afraid to look closely, but when he rushed to his veterinarian, his fears were confirmed.
“The poor little guy, he couldn’t even lick me or lick my face,” he said.
The 16-pound dog was euthanized the same day.
The city denies the animal was kicked, but it’s an injury the veterinarian said he hasn’t seen in 30 years of practice. The bone was fractured completely, not just cracked, on both sides, according to Dr. Mark Giffey.
“It’s a little unusual to see both the left and right side, because usually there is an impact site,” Giffey said.
Chehalis Police Department Officer Bruce Thompson stated in a written report the Dachshund lunged at him so he offered the left toe of his shoe as a barrier. Thompson wrote the animal bit the toe and as it shook its head from side to side he heard a snapping sound; the dog let go and backed away.
Police Chief Glenn Schaffer said he has absolutely no doubt it happened the way his officer described.
“What Officer Thompson did is what anybody would do if about to get bit,” Schaffer said. “Offering a dog a shoe to bite is better than offering an arm or a hand.”
For Beauregard, a bachelor, whose constant companion is now buried in his backyard, the explanation doesn’t pass the smell test. He’s hoping his lawyer can make things right.
“I want to prosecute the guy that did this,” he said. “It’s awful, uncalled for and totally inhumane.
“If I did that to my neighbor dog, I know would happen to me. I’d be arrested, put in jail and fined for animal cruelty.”
Rowdy’s stay in the city’s temporary animal holding facility at the end of last month was unplanned. It began the evening of Aug. 23 when Beauregard was pulled over by a Chehalis police officer for weaving down South Market Boulevard and arrested for drunk driving.
According to the police report, the small dog in his truck was very aggressive when a second officer came to take the dog away.
Chief Schaffer points out the two officers got Beauregard out of the back of the patrol car and out of his handcuffs so he could assist in moving the dog. Beauregard said he helped them leash and muzzle Rowdy who was understandably upset.
“He was very protective of me, and didn’t like strangers handling me,” he said.
He said he warned them his pet wouldn’t like going to a kennel, wouldn’t be happy and wouldn’t eat.
Rowdy was taken to the city’s shelter off Kresky Avenue and after the officer finished getting breath samples and filling out paperwork, Beauregard was given his citation and then a ride to his home.
He tried to pick his dog up the following day, he said, but was told he had to wait until Monday morning.
Beauregard’s longtime buddy Scott Fanning who went with him described the same kind of puzzlement and apprehension when Officer Thompson addressed the men before opening the shelter door.
“He said, he was pretty aggressive when I was trying to get him. He was attacking me so I offered him my right boot,” Fanning said.
Once they got inside, they saw Rowdy with blood on his face, his jaw hanging and one tooth bent outward.
The officer was saying he thought the dog’s tooth was hurt and Beauregard was getting hot, asking who did it, who was taking care of his dog, Fanning said. Thompson replied he didn’t know, he said.
Fanning hustled his friend and the dog out the door and to the veterinary office, he said.
Two weeks later, Fanning said he still gets sick thinking about what transpired between a “big cop and a little dog”.
“I’m still crying, I can’t take it,” Fanning said. “He was one of my dog’s best friends.”
At the Chehalis Centralia Veterinary Hospital, Rowdy was shaking like an outboard motor, Beauregard said.
“I think he said we could probably save him, or we could try to save him,” he said. “I don’t recall exactly. I was crying.”
Fanning said he was too upset to stay at the clinic in support of his friend. Both men knew it wasn’t realistic to to send Rowdy to an orthopedic veterinary specialist who would attach metal plates to the fractures.
“When you get a broken jaw, that’s like a death sentence, cause dogs aren’t gonna lay around and suck on a straw and watch TV while they heal,” Fanning said.
Dr. Giffey said he’s thought about it a lot, wondering if the force of a dog’s jaw closing on a boot is strong enough to break the bones. It’s something he’s never encountered in three decades of treating animals, he said.
Whether twisting or shaking could explain it, would be a question for an orthopedist, he said.
“The police officer was the only witness to the injury, so I guess that’s where it stands at,” Giffey said. “I haven’t seen that myself.”
Weeks later, Beauregard is spending more time fishing with his friends and less time at home, because his quiet house reminds him that Rowdy’s dead.
“For six years he slept with me, never left my side,” he said. “Day and night, 24 -seven. It’s pretty strange not having him.”
But hanging out on the Cowlitz River fishing with his buddies who always bring along their dogs isn’t entirely better.
“Out there, all these dogs out there running around, and mine’s not there,” he said.