Investigation Begins Into Dog Torture Case

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RENO, NV - Watch Laurie Wagoner and her dog Thirteena playing in their yard today and you'd little guess what their lives have been like the past two months.

Look closer and you'll see scars, physical and emotional.

This 2-year-old Springer Spaniel-Lab mix was once the picture of happiness and health.

"She was happy, friendly. She didn't have a care in the world."

Then in early November, a week after Halloween, she suddenly disappeared from Laurie's well-fenced yard in Sun Valley.

She was found by a family friend a day later, at a Clear Acre Lane car wash nearly two miles away. Something terrible had happened to her.

"Her ears were swollen up, really thick. Her eyes were swollen closed. There was something wrong with her nose, her tail. All this white (coat) was brown. Finally, looking at her we decided she'd been burned."

A veterinarian agreed, though it's still not clear how or with what she was burned.

Concerned about infection, her veterinarian amputated most of her ears. Her eyes, her tail, damaged in the ordeal healed, but she's still somewhat traumatized.

"Men scare her," says Laurie, "and if I raise my voice she gets really upset. A fly swatter scares her for some reason."

Her recovery is encouraging, but it leaves a troubling question unanswered. Who did this and why? At the time, she didn't know who to turn to search for that answer.

Washoe County Animal Services has five certified investigators for just this purpose and they are adding more.

"When this happens give us a call. We'll have our investigators come out, take a look and see what we can do for you."

In fact, Smith says three more staff members are being certified as animal abuse investigators so they can devote more time to cases.

Smith says anyone who believes their pet has suffered abuse should report it and anyone with information on this particular case should call Animal Services or Secret Witness.

If found, violators also now face stiffer penalties. A recent change in Nevada law makes it a felony if intent can be shown.

Laurie Wagoner would like to know some of those answers, but she's not sure she wants to know who did this to her dog,

"Yeah, because I'd be tempted to drop them down a mine shaft."