The article appeared April 17, 2014 in The Gardner News.
Allyson Clark knew something was wrong when she heard her daughters’ screams.
“As a mother, you know your children’s screams,” she said. “A scream like that meant urgency now.”
Without stopping to put on shoes, she ran outside where she said she found, Snoopy, the family’s pet beagle, hanging four feet off the ground from a tree in their backyard. The 14-week old puppy was dead.
“I want to see justice,” she said. “That’s all I care about.”
Police, as well as the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the local animal control officer, are investigating the dog’s death. Lieutenant David Walsh said police responded to the call at 6:51 p.m. on Monday.
He declined to comment further.
Snoopy had only been a part of the Clark’s family for four weeks before the tragic incident. Ms. Clark said the dog was a birthday present for her 20-year-old daughter Brittany.
Monday was the first time the family had left the pup alone in their backyard at 22 Western Avenue, a small, swampy road with four houses.
Ms. Clark was inside the house making a dinner of green beans, mashed potatoes and chicken when it happened. After mashing the potatoes, she said she noticed that Snoopy was unusually quiet and sent her 10-year-old daughter Katelyn to check on him.
When Katelyn when outside, she started screaming for her sister, Brittany, to help her untangle the the dog. When Brittany came out, she started screaming “he’s dead,” according to their mother.
This all happened at approximately 3:40 p.m., according to police reports.
“It happened in broad daylight,” Ms. Clark said.
Ms. Clark said the dog was hanged using the rope from a birdfeeder in their yard. So many knots were tied around the dog’s collar that she said they had to cut it to take him down.
“We had buried him,” she said. “We didn’t want to leave him hanging there.”
However, later in the evening, she said she became concerned about whether the person would attack another family’s pet or a person. At 6:51, she called the police to report Snoopy’s death.
The dog was exhumed Wednesday morning as part of the investigation, she said.
The family is now on a quest to find out what happened to their beloved dog.
“I can’t think of anyone who would be vindictive to us,” she said. “We’ve never done anything to harm anyone.”
Ms. Clark created a flyer about the incident that she planned to distribute to all of her neighbors, offering a $100 reward for information.
Before that could happen, her husband, Peter, posted it to Facebook where it went viral.
“I never expected that would happen,” she said. “I can’t believe it.”
People in the community, outraged by Snoopy’s death, started to contribute to the reward fund. As of yesterday afternoon the reward has reached $500.
“The mailman stopped and gave me $50 in cash,” she said. “A man I just wave hello to everyday,”
Another person left a small stuffed animal in her mailbox.
While the family is touched by the support from the greater Winchendon community, they are still feeling the loss of their pet—and security—acutely.
“We are afraid in our own home,” Ms. Clark said.
According to Ms. Clark, following news of the Snoopy’s death, one of her neighbors approached her and said she had seen a man in the woods around their home several times, sometimes at night.
Ms. Clark has taken several security measures to try to keep her family of three daughters and one son safer, including removing the outside handle of their screen door, not letting her daughters go outside alone, and using their security system.
The family is also considering installing security cameras around the house.
“We’re not sleeping well,” she said. “I keep waking up to check the windows and locks.”
She added that her 10-year-old is having nightmares and has asked her parents about moving.
People with information about the alleged attack should call Det. Kevin Wolski at 978-297-1212.
People can also email information to the family at firstname.lastname@example.org if they are not comfortable talking to police.
Ms. Clark said she still plans to post the flyer throughout town and will be talking to her neighbors about the incident.
“I’m not going to stop until I know what happened to him,” she said.