MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Residents of an upscale neighborhood in Nicaragua’s capital say someone is shooting pet dogs with arrows, killing several inside their own yards.
In an impoverished Central American country where strays have long led miserable lives in the streets, the killing of at least seven cherished house dogs has caused an uproar.
“Our dog was 9 years old. She wasn’t the kind of dog who roamed the streets,” said Renato Franco Penalba, whose pet Cookie, a basset-Pekingese mix, died this month with a crossbow bolt through her chest. Franco Penalba, a 30-year-old business consultant, found the wounded dog on his patio and rushed her to a veterinarian, but she died. “The arrow went through her body from side to side,” her owner noted.
When he posted an account of the ordeal on a social networking site, he began to hear of similar cases in or around the same neighborhood.
“I started to get messages from several people who had the same thing happen to their dogs, who live near my house,” said Franco Penalba. “That was when we decided we had to report this to the police.”
It turns out that even police dogs had suffered the same kind of attack.
“There is a guard post in front of my house, and their dog killed with an arrow, too,” said Wilbur Arteaga, whose home is about 10 minutes from Franco Penalba’s.
Arteaga was just falling asleep one night about a week ago when he heard his dog cry out. He went out into his yard to check, but the dog crawled under a vehicle and he went back to bed. In the morning, his sister-in-law found the dog dead, again with an arrow straight through his body.
Whoever is killing the dogs apparently uses a relatively costly imported crossbow, something few Nicaraguans can afford, leading to speculation that the attacks are some sort of sick sport.
“These are expensive weapons, not just anyone can afford them,” said Arteaga.
“It is someone with money,” said Franco Penalba.
Police say they are investigating, but so far, the only publicly known clues are that the dogs have died late at night and a gray sport utility vehicle has been seen nearby.
Veterinarian Enrique Rimbaud, president of the animal protection group Amarte Foundation, said at least seven dogs have been attacked.
Nicaragua has a law for the protection of wild and domestic animals that stipulates the confiscation of weapons used to attack animals, as well as fines equivalent to about eight years of the suspect’s wages.
“The worst thing is that it has been proven that people who start by killing animals don’t stop there,” said Rimbaud.
Police commissioner Roger Paguagua Torres agreed: “The suspect might not just stick to animals. Tomorrow, it could be people.”