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Kasilof residents charged with animal cruelty for allowing dog to freeze to death

Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic helped troopers identify the dog's cause of death.
Riley Board
Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic helped troopers identify the dog's cause of death.

Amid subzero temperatures during the past two weeks, two Kasilof residents were arrested for animal cruelty for leaving their dog outside in the cold, which led to its death.

In late January, Alaska State Troopers got a call about neglected dogs at a property in Kasilof. The caller believed the residents had moved out and left dogs behind. Troopers visited the house, which appeared abandoned, and found a dead dog inside a kennel, with a chain affixing it to a tree in the yard.

In the days prior to the trooper investigation, low temperatures had consistently dipped below negative 15 degrees.

The original caller provided photos of another dog on the property, also emaciated, and a neighbor told troopers that eight dogs and a litter of puppies had been rescued from the house a day earlier.

A veterinarian from Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic in Soldotna conducted an exam of the dog that had died, and discovered it was a young male. She determined the dog was otherwise healthy, and likely died of malnourishment and hypothermia.

Several days later, troopers say they contacted the residents, 36-year-old Heather Harris and 42-year-old Harley Potter, at a different address. Harris told the trooper they had visited their home a few days ago and noticed the dogs were gone, and identified one of the rescue dogs as hers from a photograph, according to a trooper affidavit.

Harris and Potter were arrested on two Class C felony counts of cruelty to animals, which can carry a penalty of up to $50,000 and five years in prison.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.