But three back-to-back cases in October drastically changed that line of thought.
Now all they need are witnesses willing to go on record with the animal abuse they’ve seen.
“The biggest problem we’re having is we can’t get anyone to come forward and actually sign a statement,” Johnston said. “They’ll call me and say, ‘Hey I just witnessed this.’ I’ll say, ‘I need you to sign a statement.’ They’ll say, ‘No.’ I don’t even know why they’re bothering.”
Johnston has been the animal control officer for the City of Metropolis for the last two years. For the most part, his daily routine means responding to calls where animals been neglected by not having food, water or shelter, a hoarding case or taking animals out of meth labs.
Then on Oct. 9, Johnston was asked to assist Hillebrand, the Massac County animal control officer, on a case involving a young boxer dog found in the Mermet area. Suffering from severe injuries, the dog was taken in by Project Hope in Metropolis.
Project Hope officials named the dog Chance. With several large areas on his front quarters and head missing skin, officials first thought Chance had been dragged by a vehicle. Skin samples were sent to a lab and revealed the boxer had chemical burns. Johnston said dragging was ruled out as Chance’s hindquarters weren’t damaged. However, Chance also had something done to his anus.
“They say someone actually had to stick something in there, there’s no other way for that to happen,” Johnston said.
Chance stayed in veterinary care for 47 days. He’s recovered from his injuries with few scars and is now at the Metropolis City Pound. “He’s a pretty good dog,” Johnston said.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Ted Holder reported that deputy Chad Kaylor is still investigating the case.
“We had a lady reporting that the dog was dragged and we’ve gotten a statement from who saw it, plus several anonymous calls saying the same thing. The problem is evidence shows it was chemical burns so we’re not sure if the dog was dragged or not,” Holder said. “We need people to come forward with information and give us somewhere to go on this.”
In the weeks following the news of Chance’s injuries, Holder said no further information has come to light.
“The lab test says the abrasions suggest thermal or chemical burns, that is what we’re focusing on now. We know the dog was left in an agricultural area and there is the possibility it got into something and got burnt,” he said. “We’re looking for information on the chemical part.”
And while “we know who adopted the dog, we know where the dog was,” Johnston said, nothing can be done until a witness is willing to go on record stating how Chance was abused.
The same goes in two other cases.
Johnston received a call on Oct. 15 of a cat that was shot in the head. The bullet is still there. The cat is now blind.
On Oct. 22, Johnston responded to a call of a pit bull near the police station. Friendly, but starving, Johnston noticed it had been shot three times. Its underside was solid purple with bruises from being beaten. The dog is still alive.
“Again, nobody will tell me anything,” Johnston said. “I can’t get anybody to come forward. They’re scared of retaliation.”