Animal cruelty investigation falls through the cracks at DPD

- Warning: Some images and information in this story may be disturbing.

An ongoing FOX 4 Investigation into animal cruelty compelled Dallas police to reopen their investigation into how a pit bull mix named Khaleesi ended up outside a burning home with her throat slit earlier this year.

Firefighters responding to the January 13 arson fire named the dog they found Khaleesi after a character in the popular drama series Game of Thrones.

As previous FOX 4 Investigation revealed, Khaleesi’s abuse is not unique. The City of Dallas receives nearly 4,000 animal cruelty calls each year, yet in 2015, only 11 cases made it to prosecution. In addition, the system is so broken, no one agency is tracking all animal cruelty cases from start to finish.

Dr. Kyle Jones of Southridge Animal Hospital performed emergency surgery on Khaleesi after firefighters rushed her to his clinic in Denton.

“She had, in my opinion, the worst laceration I have seen in over 30 years in veterinary medicine,” Dr. Jones said. “The laceration was four inches deep, missed both carotid arteries by one-sixteenth of an inch.”

Most dogs injured that badly never make it to the operating room, according to Dr. Jones. They are usually dead on arrival.

After four hours in surgery and more than 300 stitches, “it was amazing she was alive,” Dr. Jones said.

Today, Khaleesi is ready for adoption through DFW Rescue Me, but she is still waiting for justice.

When animal rescuer Stephanie Timko heard what happened to Khaleesi, she filed a police report. Timko was the first and only person to formally alert Dallas police.

What happened next shows how the system of investigation animal abuse continues to fail.

While arson investigators at Dallas Fire Rescue moved forward, charging William Demond Mathonican with felony arson, Timko’s animal cruelty report from the same incident sat untouched at DPD.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s office is currently prosecuting that arson case. FOX 4 asked in early May if the D.A. would pursue an additional animal cruelty charge.

In a May 23 e-mail, a spokesperson for the D.S. said, "Since we have not received an animal cruelty case regarding Khaleesi, our office doesn't have much guidance or insight to offer at this time."

Two weeks later, the D.A. spokesperson e-mailed FOX 4 again, referring us back to Dallas Fire Rescue for more details.

But, Dallas Fire Rescue does not investigate animal cruelty. Dallas police are responsible for that.

So, we turned our attention back to DPD, specifically Deputy Chief Robert Sherwin.

The city assigned Sherwin in mid-May to lead animal-related efforts in Dallas, after veteran Antoinette Brown was killed by a pack of loose dogs on May 2.

We sent Sherwin several e-mails on May 23, May 31 and June 6 asking why Khaleesi’s case was not being investigated and whether it had even been assigned to a detective.

On June 7, Sherwin finally replied, but only to our separate request for an on-camera interview.

He wrote, "...I am in training and am out of town for the month. Please direct your question to [the public information officer]."

On June 8, we e-mailed Sherwin and DPD’s Public Information Office.

Finally, a DPD spokesperson called back that day and said he would look into our questions.

We later learned, that same day, June 8, nearly five months after the crime, the animal cruelty case was finally assigned to a detective.

FOX 4’s questions had prompted DPD to take a first look at Khaleesi’s abuse case.

According to records reviewed by FOX 4, an administrative error prevented Stephanie Timko’s report, filed in the Northwest Division, from transferring to the South Central Division where the crime occurred.

In the records, a detective wrote:

“[Northwest Patrol officers] completed a supplement to this [arson] offense report in which they stated they spoke to an unknown South Central Officer however the case was never forwarded to the workflow of the South Central Investigative Unit therefore it was not properly assigned to specific detective within the South Central Investigative Unit.”

Once the case was properly assigned, a detective called Stephanie Timko. 

“I was just thrilled to hear from anyone at DPD honestly,” Timko said.

The detectives also interviewed firefighters, witnesses and the arson suspect. According to the detectives’ notes, the accused arsonist, William Mathonican, denied slitting the dog’s throat, but refused to supply detectives with a written statement.

One of the witnesses told detectives he had seen his uncle restrain Khaleesi in the back in the past with a dog leash, a chain and a water hose, and that the dog had broken free from the restraints each time. The witness also said, more recently, he saw his uncle restrain the dog with a rope. FOX 4 is not naming the uncle at this time, because no charges have been filed against him.

The detective also reached out to Dr. Jones who provided his medical report, detailing Khaleesi’s injuries and his professional opinion on the neck wound. Dr. Jones ruled out a rope, because no fibers were found in the wound.

Dr. Jones wrote, "…Only two things could cause this. A four inch bladed knife...or being tied up with an extremely fine wire or poly plastic line (think piano type wire or deep sea fishing line)."

“If she was tied up like that, in the very least, she suffered severe abuse,” Dr. Jones said. ”In the very worst, she was actually attacked. And so, either way, it was horrible deal.”

Without hard evidence, the detective cannot identify a weapon, much less prove who did it. As a result, the case has been suspended again pending any new workable leads.

While Timko and Dr. Jones did praise the work of the detective since being assigned the case, both believe the five-month delay greatly reduced the chances of finding justice for Khaleesi.

“I think system failed Khaleesi, absolutely,” Timko said. “The whole system failed.”

“It did impact the investigation, no doubt,” Dr. Jones said. “It did impact the outcome. And, the person that was responsible for this really needs to be brought to justice.”

Anyone with information is urged to call the South Central Investigative Unit at 214-671-4500.

Families interested in adopting Khaleesi can find her through DFW Rescue Me.

You can watch FOX 4's original investigation into animal cruelty in Dallas here.

Dr. Kyle Jones full medical report:

Medical Report on Khaleesi by Vicki Chen on Scribd

 

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