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Police dismiss abuse complaint about bound dog

CALGARY - Police are no longer looking into a complaint about an abused dog, but are investigating a fundraiser involving the case.

Alyssa Hatfield and her fiance Cameron Edmonds told Calgary police two weeks ago that their husky cross named Radar had been swiped from their backyard.

Edmonds said that he searched the neighbourhood and found his pet hog-tied with rope. A belt was also wrapped tightly around its muzzle.

A few days later, another person set up an online fundraiser for the couple to help them pay $1,100 in veterinary bills. More than two dozen people chipped in to raise $1,745.

Police said Thursday there are unexplained inconsistencies with the abuse complaint. Vets said the dog wasn't injured. Officers couldn't find the rope or belt used to tie it up.

But police aren't closing the case. Now, they're looking at the money, and possible fraud or mischief charges.

"The person who set up the account did so in good faith, believed the people and their story and has put a stop on that account," Staff Sgt. Brad Moore said. "No money is coming in or out."

He said officers are looking at having all the donations returned.

Hatfield and Edmonds told CTV Calgary that they are returning all the money.

"We would never make anything like this up," they said in a statement to CTV Calgary Thursday night.

"We are returning all the funds for Radar's vet bills, not because we did anything wrong, but because of the damage this has done to our reputations."

Animal abuse has been a high-profile issue in Calgary since earlier this year, when a cat and a starved dog were found dead in a alley with their mouths taped shut. People have donated $72,000 on the same crowd-sourcing site, Indiegogo, as a reward to find those responsible.

The profile for "Radar's Vet Bills" describes how the dog has experienced seizures, balance issues and suspected eye and kidney trauma since he was stolen and abused.

"Alyssa and Cameron are getting married in just a few short months and Radar's veterinary bills are an unexpected expense on top of their wedding. Every donation is gratefully accepted."

It states that any money raised on top of the required $1,100 is to be donated to the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, where the couple worked as volunteers.

The society's executive director, Deanna Thompson, said the group has not received any money from the fundraiser. Hatfield and Edmonds have been suspended pending the outcome of the police investigation.

Moore wouldn't go as far as to say the couple was behind an alleged scam.

"I can't tell you that they're lying. I can't tell you what their thoughts were. What I can say is we found no evidence to substantiate any of the claims."

There was fresh snow the day the dog was allegedly taken, said Moore, but officers found no footprints in or around the backyard.

"We were unable to find any evidence to support anybody in there. Keep in mind this is a very large dog, so it would taken some effort potentially to remove this animal."

He said the vets who looked at the dog found no injuries to indicate the dog had been bound. "No broken teeth, no loss of hair, no rope burns, no nothing like that.

"So, again, when you ask what happened to the dog, we can't tell you. Because nothing supports what was told to us."

— By Chris Purdy in Edmonton

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