Authorities in Ohio are investigating after a German shepherd mix registered in a program that matches inmates with dogs was reportedly found dead in a jail cell late last month.
In a Facebook post, Joseph’s Legacy announced the death of one of its dogs, Evie, and said they would no longer participate in the rehabilitation program at Warren Correctional Institution. The nonprofit organization said a necropsy determined the 4-year-old—who handlers found unresponsive in a cell on August 25—died from blunt force trauma to her abdomen, which caused kidney damage and liver hemorrhaging.
“Our sweet Evie came to us in 2015 when she was suffering a broken hip. She had been hit by a car and for weeks was putting her own needs aside as she was taking care of and nursing her own puppies. She was a super mom,” the group wrote. “We had to help her, give her the life where she didn’t have to worry about what the next meal was for her or her babies. No longer having to roam in pain with a broken hip that wasn’t being medically addressed by anyone.”
Evie had puppies and was adopted, only to be returned because she kept escaping, the statement read.
Explaining why they enrolled Evie into the program, Joseph’s Legacy wrote, “She was doing amazing with her foster mom but we had thought maybe trying to get some more training, it would be safer for when she was adopted again.”
According to the organization, the rehabilitation program pairs “at risk” dogs with inmates in hopes of preparing the dogs for their “forever home.” It’s currently unclear whether the inmate Evie was matched with was deemed a violent offender.
Lisa Cantrell, secretary and board member of Joseph’s Legacy, told CBS News that it has been involved with the program for about a year and, in that time, 20 dogs have “graduated” and found homes.
In light of Evie’s death, however, Joseph’s Legacy had pulled all of its dogs from the program.
“Our volunteers are hurting so deeply. Confused how such an amazing happy dog can be intentionally harmed,” the organization wrote.
“How safety measures have failed her.”
A prison spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the program has been in place for 20 years and that it has a “zero tolerance” for animal abuse. She said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will be investigating the incident at Warren Correctional Institution in addition to reviewing animal programs at other affiliated prisons.
“We are incredibly sad and it’s a rough time for us. Please understand I am having a hard time finding the right words…
[Featured image: Evie/Joseph’s Legacy (Facebook)]