Case Snapshot
Case ID: 15331
Classification: Shooting
Animal: horse, cow
More cases in Alameda County, CA
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Reward: $33,000
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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2008

County: Alameda

Disposition: Open

Suspect(s) Unknown - We need your help!

A reward fund for two horses and a calf shot to death last year received a big boost from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Last month, the supervisors voted unanimously to donate $10,000 to a fund, now at $33,000, that will reward the person or people who provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the killings, which investigators believe are linked.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who suggested the donation, said he was appalled after learning what happened to the three animals in rural Livermore. Haggerty represents the unincorporated Alameda County where the calf was found shot dead on Oct. 22. The two horses, owned by the Rountree family, were found in their pasture on Collier Canyon Road in unincorporated Contra Costa County on the same day.

The money for the reward is from the supervisors' boardwide account, which is normally used to purchase major items, such as computers, Haggerty said. He wanted to support the ranchers he represents at the county level.

Haggerty said the outpouring of support for the animals doesn't surprise him at all.

"It surprises me that anybody kills anything," Haggerty said. I think this is a particularly heinous crime, and people see that."

Haggerty said he doesn't understand how anyone could kill the animals just for the thrill and said he hopes the larger reward will prompt someone who either saw the shootings or knows of them to come forward.

The Contra Costa Sheriff's Office is investigating the deaths of the two horses, said Jimmy Lee, Sheriff's spokesman, but no suspects have yet been identified. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office has no new developments in the case of the calf.

Human empathy toward animals is nothing new, said Daniel Cerutti, assistant professor of psychology at Cal State East Bay. It played a part in human evolution, he said.

The animal-human bond goes back as far as 15,000 years.

"Before people were domesticating animals, we had these dogs following us around," he said.

Dogs evolved, he said, by learning to exploit human emotions to receive care; they beg, act submissively and humans recognize a dog's smile. People then used dogs to hunt and keep away intruders.

Cerutti's colleague David Sandberg, a clinical psychology professor, said people have a connection with hurt animals they read about because many have their own experiences of being close to pets growing up.

Many animals are seen as nonjudgemental, providing companionship and support to their owners, Sandberg said. So some people do want to help when they hear that an animal was unmercifully killed or maimed.

"When they see them suffer, it tends to activate a care-giving response," Sandberg said.

Investigators ask anyone with information to call Contra Costa Sheriff's Office at 925-313-2654 or the Alameda County Sheriff's Office 510-667-7721.


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