No Suspect in Cruz Bay Animal Cruelty Case; Animal Rescue Worker Menaced

Friendly donkeys line the road in 2017. (File photo)
Friendly donkeys line the road in 2017. (File photo)

Four days after police received a report about suspected animal abuse in Coral Bay, there is little indication that a suspect has been identified.

According to records at the island’s only police station, authorities were at first unsure about how to view the incident brought to their attention around midnight, Saturday. Information coming from a non-governmental source on St. John also suggests there was more than one case of animal abuse occurring around the time two feral donkeys were found lying dead on the side of the road near a grocery store in Calabash Boom.

Police at Leander Jurgen Command in Cruz Bay were initially told the two dead animals appeared to have been shot. The mystery deepened a few hours later when a volunteer at the Animal Care Center in Estate Enighed found a small dog lying lifeless outside the door with a plastic bag wrapped around its head.

A third report brought to police the following day told of suspicious activity near the home of a Coral Bay resident known for her animal rescue work.

ACC Director Ryan Moore described the dead dog as a terrier, about the size of a chihuahua. There was no outward sign of any other injury, he said.

Moore said it appeared the dog had been suffocated and left near the door of the ACC to be found. He also pointed to the timing of the discovery:
“Sunday, the morning after the incident in Coral Bay,” he said. “We’re going to file a police report, we just haven’t had the time with all the things that have been going on.”

Sunday’s discovery follows by about a month a separate incident in which the bodies of two dead cats were found outside the ACC’s entrance, along with a substance scattered near the entrance, identified as poison.

In a open letter written to the St. John community, Moore said ACC would install security devices as a protective measure. Moore said the devices arrived a few days ago but had not been installed by Sunday.

On Tuesday, he pointed to one surveillance camera; ordered, received and activated.

Donkeys are a different problem, he said. The non-profit animal shelter is poorly equipped to help large livestock with illness and injury, although it has happened. One ACC volunteer was skilled in providing that kind of assistance, the director said, but is no longer there.

“We get contacted about them. The vet was called out to take a look, then Dana kinda took care of it.

Around noon on Sunday, Carolina Corral operator Dana Bartlett showed up at Jurgen’s Command to report the suspicious appearance of a vehicle outside her home. According to a complaint filed with police, a vehicle pulled up outside the residence in Estate Usher’s Quay. When Bartlett’s dog began to bark, the occupants in the vehicle sped away.

In addition to caring for horses she uses for her island tour business, Bartlett has been known for sheltering some of the donkeys living unfettered on the island’s east end.

The Source attempted to reach Glenn Dratte, spokesman for the Virgin Islands Police Department, but was not successful Tuesday.

Although cases of animal abuse in the territory are not common, police do pursue them. On Oct. 29, a 32-year-old St. Croix man was arrested after shooting and killing a horse.

The VIPD arrested suspect Ashnel Evelle Walters of Estate Work and Rest and issued a statement saying the suspect was firing at the man riding the horse at the time.