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As case of animal cruelty spreads on social media, Montana deputies investigate spray-painted dog

Posted at 11:02 PM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-29 01:02:05-05

HELENA – The Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a case of animal cruelty after a ranch dog was found on the side of the road near Toston last week.

He was spray painted with the word “Free.”

A photo of the dog, posted on Thanksgiving Day, quickly spread across Facebook, and outrage about the animal’s treatment grew with it.

Undersheriff Brandon Harris says the dog has since been re-homed in Helena and will now be called Freedom.

The dog’s original owner, who Harris says isn’t responsible for the spray paint, agreed a new home was best for the dog.

According to Harris, the dog liked to roam, and someone living nearby may have become angry.

“I’m sure it was a message to the actual owner of the dog, and I just think you went about it the wrong way,” said Harris. “We’re there. We can come out and pick up the dog, if need be.” 

Whoever did this could potentially face an animal cruelty charge.

Harris says it’s a tough case, but deputies welcome any information someone may have, now that the Facebook post has been shared almost 1,800 times.

“Unfortunately the little guy can’t speak to say who did that to him,” said Harris. “But I think it just says people are generally good in nature and want to help something that’s obviously a helpless animal.” 

Harris said the dog is in good condition and was well cared for by his previous owner.

If you have any information, you can contact the Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office. Their number for crime tips is 406-266-3441.

Story by Evie Schultz, MTN News