Saginaw, MI — In the study of psychology, there is a term for those who hurt animals for personal pleasure. It is called intentional animal torture and cruelty and even has its own initialism, IATC. Psychologists have long studied the reasons behind why a person would intentionally harm an animal and the types of people associated with this behavior are often society's worst. So, when a deputy admits to torturing and then killing a dog, it is likely not the best idea for that person to remain in a position of authority.
Luckily for the taxpayers of Genesee County, they are no longer on the hook for the salary of Genesee County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jacob S. Wilkinson. He was fired this month after admitting to the horrific torture and killing of a service dog.
Normally, when folks find a dead animal, even a dog, on the side of the road, they assume it was likely hit by a vehicle. But when Saginaw County Road Commission employees found this boxer pit bull mix, named 'Habs', on the side of the road, they knew instantly that he was not hit by a car.
Habs had been on the roadside for months but was covered in snow. When the snow melted, Habs was found with his mouth duct taped closed and his body wrapped in duct tape to prevent him from moving.
The very idea of duct taping a dog in this fashion is horrifying enough but Wilkinson didn't stop there. After throwing the completely restrained dog on the side of the road in the snow, Wilkinson put three bullets in Habs' head and drove off.
Because Habs had been tortured an investigation was launched into his death and when a necropsy — the animal equivalent of an autopsy — was conducted, they found he'd been chipped. Investigators had no idea their investigation would lead back to one of their own — deputy Wilkinson.
Wilkinson worked as a corrections officer for the Michigan Department of Corrections before becoming a deputy with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. Habs was part of a program with veteran inmates who train dogs to become service animals for veterans — called Blue Star Service Dogs.
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“These dogs master basic obedience, command training, and pre-task training and basic tasks such as turning off and on lights, picking up objects, and opening doors,” Blue Star’s website states.
Saginaw County Animal Care & Control Director Bonnie Kanicki told mLive that Habs was in the training program when Wilkinson adopted him.
As mLive reports:
By the time of the carcass’ discovery, Wilkinson was no longer employed by the MDOC and was then working for the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Kanicki said.
Investigators interviewed Wilkinson, who confessed to killing Habs and dumping his body in the ditch, Kanicki said. Wilkinson told investigators he had been trying to trim Habs’ nails when the dog nipped at him, prompting Wilkinson to wrap him in duct tape, drive him out to the ditch, shoot him three times, and leave his carcass, Kanicki said.
Wilkinson is believed to have killed Habs in September, with snow concealing the body for months.
“It just shocks the conscience,” Kanicki said. “That dog suffered greatly.”
Indeed. Anyone who could do this to a dog is a threat to society.
On April 25, after tracing the dog back to Wilkinson, investigators issued a warrant for his arrest. He was arraigned a day later on charges of second-degree torturing or killing of an animal. If convicted, he faces up to 7 years behind bars.
Wilkinson is currently out on bail and is barred from possessing firearms or animals.