I-Team: Investigation Opens Into Alleged Abuse of Dogs - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Investigation Opens Into Alleged Abuse of Dogs

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LAS VEGAS -- The allegations of Animal Control officers using unnecessary force against two dogs, apparently abandoned by their owners, has outraged animal lovers.

Among the allegations made by witnesses is that one of the Animal Control officers used some sort of device to shock the dogs before making entry into their yard. Turns out, just days before the incident Las Vegas Animal Control officers were issued stun batons for the first time.

While the city won't confirm whether the officers involved used that weapon, one vet says it may explain the bloody scene.

"We couldn't see what was happening because they were behind the shed. But you can hear the wailing and the screaming from the dog as if something were happening to it. You don't know what, you just hear it," said witness Randy Reyes.

I-Team: Animal Control Officers Accused of Abusing Dogs

Reyes says he watched in horror last month as the shy dog emerged, bloody and on the end of a catch pole.

Crimson drops marked his path from the yard, through the house, and to the back of a Las Vegas Animal Control vehicle.

"It was obvious to everyone that was there -- there were six, seven people here -- that the dog was really injured. There was an extraordinary amount of blood," said Reyes.

Yet intake notes dated the same day from the Lied Animal Shelter make no mention of any blood, indicating that the dog "appears to be in good health." A week later, a shelter veterinarian documents evidence of previous bleeding, but speculates it came from an abrasion on the lip caused by the dog biting the catch pole.

A rescue group now has the shepherd, renamed Henry. At the group's request, Dr. Mark Beerenstrauch with Durango Veterinary Hospital conducted his own examination. While he agrees a cut on the lip is one possibility, in his opinion Henry had a nose bleed.

"A nose bleed is one of those things where when it happens, it is profuse, it's a large amount and then just as fast it can resolve and go back to normal and you're not going to see any physical type of wound," he said.

Beerenstrauch explains that high-stress situations can trigger nose bleeds in some dogs, like the shock to the system allegedly experienced by Henry and his companion.

"When the dogs came up to the gate on the side of the house there, she basically pulled out a foot long shock stick, like a Taser or something, and just shocked the dogs right through the gate," said Reyes.

The City of Las Vegas confirms animal control staff began carrying 400,000 volt stun batons in January. Though it will not say whether the officers in question used the device, according to training materials obtained by the I-Team, it causes the animal to feel pain, leaving it immobilized and should only be used as a defensive tool, not as an offensive device to catch animals.

"If you and I just met and I walked up and punched you, what's your reaction going to be?" said certified dog trainer Shelley Volsche.

Volsche questions whether stun batons should be used under any circumstances.

"If a dog, even a friendly dog, gets zapped, they're going to do one of two things: They're going to go cower off to the side and try to figure out why you don't want to be friends or if they are aggressive, they're going to get more aggressive," she said.

Henry and his companion, recently dubbed Cash, have yet to display any aggression. Cash's owners wonder out loud exactly who has the behavior problem.

"If you need a stun baton to do your job, then you need to find another job," said Sean Williams.

While Cash has a new home, Henry does not. If you'd like to adopt him, click here.

Animal Control officers with the cities of Henderson and North Las Vegas, along with Clark County all carry Tasers. Though they say they have rarely, if ever in the case of the county, been used.

According to the City of Las Vegas, an investigation has been launched into the handling of Henry and Cash.

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