Hundreds of Dead Pets Found in West Virginia Woods

About 350 dead cats, dogs and other animals have been found in illegal dumps in Hampshire and Hardy counties, the state Division of Natural Resources said Tuesday.

More than 250 animal carcasses — including mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, hawks and deer — were found in a wooded area near Capon Bridge on Monday, said Maj. Jerry Jenkins with the DNR.

Most of the animals were cats and dogs. Some were still wearing rabies vaccination and identification tags, indicating they once were someone's pets. Some had been decapitated and a few had intravenous tubes inserted in their forelegs.

About 4,000 pounds of animal carcasses were removed from the Hampshire County site because of potential health and environmental risks.

On Dec. 30, about 100 dead animals were found in the George Washington National Forest in Hardy County. Officials believe the two cases are related.

Jenkins said authorities believe they have traced the dumps to facilities in the Fairfax County, Va., area. No arrests have been made.

"We have some suspects," Jenkins said. "When we started finding all these animals with tags on them, it piqued our interest. We're tracing the tags back to the owners and see what they can tell us about them."

Such illegal dumping carries a fine of $25,000 a day for each day the animals were dumped and up to a year in jail, Jenkins said.

The DNR, sheriff's departments in Hampshire and Hardy counties, the Fairfax County Police Department and the U.S. Forest Service are participating in the investigations.