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More dog incidents being investigated

Kirsten Evavold keeps her frisky Lab Jacob on his leash during his first post-shooting checkup. His T-shirt prevents him from removing his sterile wrap. His arrow wounds are still draining after surgery. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Jacob the Lab bounded into The Ark Animal Hospital Monday morning for his post-shooting checkup, tail wagging, tongue licking everything in sight.

"Hi sweetheart," said a vet to the clinic's now-famous patient.

The arrow wound through his body still leaking fluid and blood, Jake wore a T-shirt over his bandage to prevent him from tearing off the sterile wrap and licking his wounds.

Jake kept heading back to the clinic's surgery room.

"He knows the biscuits are in there," observed a woman who brought in an animal shelter dog named Jerid that Jake took an instant liking to.

"He's afraid to leave the step," Jake's owner, Kirsten Evavold, said. And the night Jake went home after an arrow went through his mid section, the Evavolds' other pet, a chocolate Lab named Duke, had to be euthanized at the same clinic.

It was a bittersweet moment for the family, the miraculous surgery that saved Jake, while Duke was passing away.

"I sent samples (from Duke's body) to the U of M," said Dr. Mia Long. "There was definitely a possibility of foul play."

As the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department investigates at least three incidents last week in which dogs were killed or critically injured and contacts the owners, Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne is reviewing the reports to determine possible criminal charges.

Residents of the Arcade Loop subdivision in southern Hubbard County have themselves become fearful.

"We're scared out here," admitted Evavold. If careless neighbors are hunting through the residential subdivision, that's unacceptable, she said. But she believes the shootings were no accident.

Sheriff Frank Homer identified the suspects at the center of the investigation as Dustin Lee Kako, 21, and Andrew Eugene James, 23. Both are Hubbard County residents.

Homer said the men, who quickly came under scrutiny after Jacob came home last Thursday morning with an arrow protruding through his chest, admitted shooting at least one of the dogs, Jake, "under the pretense they were chasing deer."

"They're not hunters, they're pets," objected Evavold. "They've never chased a deer."

A Minnesota statute makes dog owners subject to a civil penalty if their pets pursue or kill big game; the statute doesn't give any hunter the right to kill a dog giving chase during the fall hunting season. It simply imposes a monetary penalty on the owner.

DNR Area Wildlife Supervisor Rob Naplin said he's aware of no statutes that give a hunter the right to shoot a dog "at this time of year."

Homer is skeptical of the men's story. Two deaths, Duke's and the dog that lived next door to Evavolds, are under investigation currently. Chester, the neighbor's dog, was reportedly shot with a gun Oct. 19, while behind the invisible fence in his yard.

Public outrage erupted after Jake's shooting. Many residents voiced their anger on the Enterprise Web site. Others called to weigh in.

Dearstyne said there is a "cruelty to animals" statute that could figure into any potential charges, but said he will not speculate yet on what action his office will take in the matter.

Evavolds meanwhile are celebrating the life of one beloved pet and mourning the loss of his companion.

"I'm upset and hurt," Evavold said.

Kako and James could not be reached for comment.

"Please come forward if you have dog complaints or issues," Homer asked the public. He asked the public to call 731-3331 to report any incidents of pet shootings.