Animal Obituaries

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2000:

Donner, 7, German shepherd companion to Humane Society of Central Oregon director Kimball Lewis, 38, was allegedly stolen from Lewis’ yard in Deschutes County, Oregon, near Bend, toward dawn on April 12; was shot in the head; and was then returned to the yard and hanged from a juniper bush. Police believe the killing was either an act of revenge or attempted intimidation of Lewis, who is known as an aggressive cruelty investigator, and has been involved in many controversial cases. The Oregon Humane Society posted a reward of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator(s), and the reward fund grew to $15,000 within 24 hours. Lewis was previously director of the Greenhill Humane Society in Eugene. Donner, his constant companion, came to work with him every day.

Cero, 3, a German shepherd police dog, was fatally shot on March 25 in Jefferson, Ohio, while attempting to subdue one Levi Ridenour. Ridenour had fatally ambushed a man named Walter Olsen as Olsen took a dawn walk. Ridenour was still carrying a concealed firearm, unknown to police, when Cero intervened. Ridenour was killed in an ensuing shootout. Three hundred police officers and 70 fellow police dogs from around Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, and West Virginia attended a full police funeral for Cero, who also received an unprecedented human-style obituary in the Ashtabula Star Beacon. Cero shared the home of Ashtabula County sheriff’s deputy William Niemi and family. “He was as much a police officer as any of us,” fellow deputy Joseph Niemi told Michael Sangiacomo of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Cero sensed the danger, and died saving my brother’s life. For that, I thank him. He also saved other people’s lives. We don’t know who else might have died if not for his sacrifice.” The North Coast Humane Society of Cleveland and the Public Animal Welfare Society donated bulletproof vests in his memory to the two surviving Astabula County police dogs.

Charlie, 6, a German shepherd drug dog for the Arkansas State Police since 1996, was accidentally shot by SWAT team members during a March 13 raid that brought the arrest of Lillie Mae Piggee, 39, who was reportedly to be charged with four counts associated with selling cocaine.

Vello, German shepherd partner of Olympia, Washington police officer Michael Hovda, was found dead on April 5 east of Onalaska. Vello vanished from the front porch of Hovda’s girlfriend on April 3. Her estranged husband, Kevin R. Amos, was held on five related charges, with bail set at $250,000.

J-18, a.k.a. Everett, the next-tolast mature bull orca member of the J-clan native to the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound, was found dead on March 28 near Sidney, Vancouver Island. A large abcess on the right side of his body indicated that he might have been hit by a boat.

Medicine Wheel, 3, a bison born as a white calf in May 1996, escaped on March 19 from Poker Joe Merrival’s ranch on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota and was shot by Leon Poor Bear on orders from police officer Alec Morgan after allegedly menacing traffic. Lakota spiritual leader Floyd Hand interpreted the birth of Medicine Wheel as a favorable sign for the tribe, often embroiled in conflict both with outside authorities and with each other. Hand said he hoped her death, coming amid another tribal feud, would bring peace.

Tusk, 2, one of two European boar mascots of the Arkansas Razorbacks athletic teams, was euthanized on March 26 at the Little Rock Zoo after failing to respond to treatment for septicemia.

Jessie, 13, a female jaguar resident at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle since coming from Quebec in 1988, was fatally injured on March 24 by her son and companion, Gordo, 6, during an attempted mating.

Dolly, 36, a female African elephant born in Botswana but residing at the Johannesburg Zoo in South Africa since 1966, was euthanized on April 10 due to injuries suffered when her daughter Lami fell on top of her as both were being tranquilized to receive experimental contraceptive impants. If the implants prove successful, they may be used as an alternative to lethal culling in Kruger National Park and other limited wild elephant habitats, said zoo vet Leslie Rasmussen.

Bibi, 40, born in Africa and billed as the world’s oldest black rhino, was euthanized on April 1 at the Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita, after losing the ability to stand.

Calhoun, a 330-pound green sea turtle, resident at aquariums in Ontario, Boston, Pittsburg, and Monterey, California, drowned for unknown reasons on March 18 while on loan to the brand-new South Carolina Aquarium. He was to have been star of the scheduled May 19 grand opening. His age was estimated at anywhere from 40 to 70. A loggerhead sea turtle drowned in a South Carolina Aquarium holding tank in September 1998, after breaking the protective mesh over the end of a water intake pipe and getting a flipper stuck in the opening. The tank was retrofitted to prevent any more such accidents, and 20 other loggerheads have occupied it without incident, aquarium officials said.

Strong Promise, Lake Kariba, Rossell Island, Architect, and Toni’s Tip were all killed in jumping accidents on April 6 during preliminary steeplechases leading up to the Grand National steeplechase at Aintree, England. Twenty-five horses have been killed during the three-day Grand National Meet over the past four years. The meet has been held annually since 1830.

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