A woman who says she was the driver seen abandoning a dog at a Lewiston animal shelter in a widely watched online video went on a Portland radio station Friday to explain her actions, saying the dog’s original owner wouldn’t take it back after it had bitten one of her young children.

The dog was killed by a car Thursday, three days after it was abandoned, and people who have seen the video are outraged.

The 21-year-old woman, whose name was not revealed by WFNK-FM, told the station that she understands the condemnation spurred by the video, in which the dog runs after the car as the driver leaves the parking lot of the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. She said she was desperate to get the dog out of her house because she thought it was a danger to her children.

“I love animals to death,” she said, but “I love my kids more.”

Earlier Friday, Lewiston police said the person who dropped off the dog had been interviewed and that the case had been forwarded to the Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office for review and a decision on criminal charges. Police officials didn’t return calls for comment on the person’s identity or what he or she might have told them.

Officials in the district attorney’s office didn’t return a call for comment Friday.

DOG FROM EX-BOYFRIEND’S EX-WIFE

The woman was interviewed by morning show hosts Stan Bennett, Heidi Knight and Teddy McKay. She told them that she got the dog in August from her ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife. The dog, which the shelter said was a Labrador retriever-husky mix with blond fur, was aggressive from the start, she said, and she asked the original owner to take it back, but was told she couldn’t.

The woman said she eventually asked the original owner if she could take the dog to a shelter or have it euthanized, but the owner rejected those suggestions. It’s not clear in the interview why the woman felt she needed permission from the original owner to take those steps.

On Sunday, the woman said, she called Auburn police to report that the dog had bitten her 19-month-old son and that she wanted police to take it to the shelter. In the interview, she said police told her that she couldn’t surrender the dog because she wasn’t its owner.

On Friday night, Auburn Deputy Police Chief Jason Moen disputed the woman’s account.

Moen said that when an officer responded to the report of a dog bite, the child who was reportedly bitten wasn’t there, and the reported bite had occurred two days earlier. The woman told the officer that the bite hadn’t broken the child’s skin, so police determined there was no reason to quarantine the dog to check for rabies, Moen said.

The officer said the woman asked him to take the dog to the shelter, “but we had no legal right to do so,” Moen said. The woman was told she could take the dog to the shelter the next day, he said.

Moen said police also contacted the ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife about taking the dog back, but were told that her building didn’t allow pets. Police tried to locate the ex-boyfriend, but were unsuccessful, he said.

In the interview on “Frank-FM,” the woman told the radio hosts that the dog also had nipped at her 2-month-old daughter and that she decided to take it to the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society after work Monday. Shelter workers said the video indicates she drove into the parking lot a few minutes after the shelter closed at 6 p.m., but that workers were still there and lights were on.

The woman told the radio station that the lights at the shelter were all off, so she didn’t knock on the door to say she was dropping off the dog. She never explained to the radio hosts why she left the dog, if there appeared to be no one at the shelter, except that she wanted the dog away from her children.

The video shows the driver taking the dog out of the middle row of the minivan and then driving off, with the dog running behind the vehicle.

In retrospect, she said, she should have taken the dog to “the hospital” or the police station.

The woman said she expects to face some criminal charge, although she didn’t know what it might be. She said she hopes the fact that she cooperated with police will be taken into account.

Under Maine law, abandonment of an animal that results in the animal’s death is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

UPDATES ON FACEBOOK

After the dog was dropped off, the humane society posted updates on its Facebook page for a couple of days, saying it was searching for the dog, which had been seen running loose in the area.

“The dog is extremely nervous, confused, and becoming exhausted,” staffers wrote on Facebook.

Thursday morning, the humane society said in a post that during its search the dog had been found dead near the off-ramp to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, where it apparently had been hit by a car.

Zach Black, the shelter’s operations manager, thanked the community for its help getting the word out, saying Thursday’s video got more than a million views online.

“It really helped the police department,” he said Friday.

The humane society’s posts on Facebook generated more traffic than the shelter had ever received, and many donations, which the shelter will use to treat injured animals.

“We were the top-trending post on Facebook for the whole country. It’s pretty crazy,” Black said.

Black said that while the abandoned dog’s death has been “heart-wrenching,” he is trying to use the story to educate people that abandoning any animal is irresponsible.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @scottddolan

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]


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