Saturday, July 20, 2024

Puppies Victimized in Willits’s Animal Cruelty Case Are Recovering and Hoping You Will Adopt Them

Two of four puppies rescued from a Willits animal cruelty case remain up for adoption [Pictures provided by Jon Engdahl]

A case of animal cruelty was uncovered by Willits Police in late March that shocked the community. Police found six dogs, some locked in cages, malnourished, and covered in their own waste, while responding to reports of unwanted subjects.

We are happy to bring good news to this disturbing case. Of the six dogs found that day, three have been officially adopted to loving homes. 

Still, three of the dogs need homes. Two puppies await adoption at a home in Redwood Valley. Their foster dad told us they are healthy, growing, and learning to trust again. One adult dog taken from the Willits property is still housed at the Mendocino County Animal Shelter awaiting a family to take it in.

Jon Engdahl told us has been fostering the puppies for about a month. While in his care, he reports they have grown three times their previous size. 

Engdahl told us that when the puppies first arrived at their foster home, “They were skittish due to a minimum of human interaction.”

That pup looks like he’s doing better

He has watched the puppies become “habituated” to their new home. Engdahl fed them three times a day and allowed the pups to socialize with his own pets. The puppies soon saw Engdahl as their provider.

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Engdahl said when anyone is trying to establish a bond with a dog “communicating goodwill is essential.”

For those unfamiliar with these dogs and their story, it all began on March 30, 2023, when police responded to reports of trespassers at a condemned property on the 800 block of Sherwood Road.

Willits Police Department revealed what officers found that day. Just after arriving on the scene, officers ordered a subject out of a “shack.” An aggressive K9 within that shack prompted officers to secure the dog inside. 

After all the trespassers were in custody, officers took a closer look inside. Once there, they found the initially aggressive dog and an emaciated Husky “locked in a kennel far too small for its size.” 

They then heard whimpering coming from a blocked doorway that led to a small bathroom. They found four German shepherd mix puppies covered with their own urine and feces. The nearby toilet was  “covered in excrement.” There was no food or water for the puppies.

Mendocino County Animal Control arrived at the scene and collected the six dogs. Jason Gower, 31, and Haley Tyrell, 30, were booked into the county jail for animal cruelty, resisting and obstructing peace officers, and trespassing without the owner’s consent. Gower was also charged for violation of probation and Tyrell with conspiracy. 

Life is good these days for these puppies. Make it even better and adopt them today.

Initial information about the case came from Willits Police via press release on March 30, 2023 The following day, WPD made photographs of the shed where the animal abuse took place public. A post on their Facebook page attributed to Sergeant Jordan Walstrom said: “The decision was made to make the public aware of the conditions the animals were rescued from.” The photographs depicted “malnourished dogs eating trash, the condition of the residence and the cage one dog was confined in.”

Since those photographs went public, one of the adult dogs has found a new home and two of the four puppies have been adopted. The husky, named Lily, and the two puppies, German Shepherd mixes, are still available for adoption

Anyone interested in bringing home these dogs and making them part of your family, fill out an adoption application here. Once the application is received, the shelter will reach out with questions and make arrangements for applicants to meet the dogs. 

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  1. Beautiful dogs, good job on nutrition and cleaning them up. I would love to have one but I have 2 cats and one dog who would probably feel put out. Someone should get these dogs!


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Ayled Zazueta
Ayled Zazueta
Student journalist, University of Redlands '23

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