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Hundreds of dead pets found in woods

West Virginia investigates 4,000 pounds of discarded carcasses

From Michael McManus
CNN

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS

West Virginia
Forest Service
Animals
Natural resources

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Hundreds of dead cats, dogs and other animals were found in two wooded areas of West Virginia, the state Division of Natural Resources said Thursday.

More than 250 dead animals have been identified, inventoried and photographed, the state said. They included animals with rabies vaccination and name tags, indicating they were pets.

Most of the animals were dogs and cats, but there were also mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, hawks and deer.

Some of the animals had been decapitated, said Maj. Jerry Jenkins of Division of Natural Resources law enforcement.

The dead animals were removed Monday from the wooded area in Hampshire County, near Capon Bridge, West Virginia. A second and similar discovery continues to be investigated in Hardy County.

Investigators believe the animals came from counties around the greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Fairfax County Police Lt. Rich Perez said some of the animals came from that county and indicated that some of the animals found had previously been turned over to Family Pet Cremations.

The Chantilly, Virginia-based company has contracts with the department to dispose of dead, sick or stray animals, Perez said.

"We are disturbed and concerned that animal remains we were turning over to Family Pet Cremations have turned up at this illegal dump site," he said.

The department would look at whether the contract with the company will continue, he said. Calls to the crematorium were not returned.

Jenkins said his agency removed more than 4,000 pounds of animal carcasses, some of them with intravenous tubes in their legs.

The U.S. Forest Service is also taking part in the investigation. Woody Lipps, a spokesman for the agency, said one of the dumping sites was in George Washington National Forest and the perpetrators could face stiff fines.

"Dumping debris on federal property is a federal misdemeanor, but the attorney's office could decide this was hazardous material and if that's the case, the fines and jail time increase dramatically," Lipps said.

The U.S. Forest Service expects to turn over its investigation to the U.S. attorney's office in West Virginia next week.

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