Puppy scalded by acid draws worldwide anger

Animal advocates from around the world have expressed their outrage over the treatment of a pit-bull puppy in Federal Way that had to be euthanized after it was burned with acid over most of its body.

Pasado's Safe Haven, a nonprofit animal rescue and rehabilitation center in Sultan, said it continues to receive angry calls and e-mails from around the United States, Canada and Europe about the 4-month-old puppy whose body, face, mouth and paws were so severely scalded that veterinarians could not save it.

"We literally have been getting more than 80,000 hits an hour on our Web site," said Susan Michaels, Pasado's co-founder. "This case has struck a real chord."

A concerned neighbor brought the wounded female puppy named Mooie to Valley Animal Hospital of Auburn on March 10 after learning it had apparently been dumped in a backyard in Federal Way where children were playing.

"I've seen animals burned, tied up by their legs, thrown up against walls so their heads were smashed, but I'd never seen anything like this," said veterinarian Ivy Engstrom. "This was one of the worst things I have ever seen."

Up to 80 percent of the dog's skin was burned. Engstrom feared its intestines had been destroyed by whatever it ingested.

"This poor baby would have needed all of its skin transplanted. There was just nothing left to save."

The burns were so powerful that a hazardous-materials team eventually responded to the vet's office because workers were having trouble breathing, and experiencing rashes and burning on their arms and necks.

Investigators told Engstrom they thought it was a type of acid that can be used for cleaning concrete, such as in a swimming pool, but that may sometimes be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Engstrom, frustrated that authorities didn't appear to be taking the case as seriously as she hoped, contacted Michaels. Both said they were later disappointed to hear that Federal Way police and King County Animal Control each thought the other agency was responsible for investigating the animal cruelty, which is a felony.

Attempts to reach officials at both agencies were unsuccessful Saturday night.

Regardless, Pasado's Safe Haven offered a $10,000 reward for information about how the animal was burned. Outraged callers and e-mailers have increased that to more than $15,000.

Pasado's co-founder Mark Steinway has been conducting his own investigation.

He, Michaels and Engstrom also were upset that authorities cremated the dog, rather than perform a necropsy.

"As far as we're concerned that was mistake No. 1; you don't destroy the only evidence in a case," Steinway said. "Now there's literally no way to determine what caused the burns on that puppy unless you talk to the vet or determine it through photographs. Right now, we fear too much time has gone by."

Steinway said it's important to take these cases seriously — not just for the animal's sake but also because such cruelty may portend violence to people.

"Anyone who would do this to an innocent puppy probably wouldn't hesitate to do something to a human being," he said.

Craig Welch: 206-464-2093 or cwelch@seattletimes.com