HILLSBORO, Ore. – An animal control officer under investigation for beating a Hillsboro man's dog Tuesday worked for animal control in Alaska, where 10 years ago, he shot and killed a dog while on duty, according to a newspaper report.
Hillsboro police are investigating officer Hoyt Stepp after he reportedly severely beat 40-year-old Marlin Starr's white water rescue dog "Dojie." Stepp, however, said the dog was dangerous and aggressive and he was forced to use his baton.
On Friday, officials from Washington County said they were aware Stepp, who started working for the county on Dec. 19, 2013, had shot and killed a dog while responding to an incident while he worked in Skagway, Alaska in 2004. Managers concluded there was no wrongdoing in the incident.
Tuesday's episode started when residents in a Hillsboro neighborhood called animal control because dogs were barking in the street. Starr said his 9-year-old dog “Dojie,” a dog trained for emergency river rescue operations, somehow got out of his fenced yard.
When Starr got home that afternoon, he found a note on his door left by Stepp that said Starr’s dog was injured. In the note, Stepp said “Dojie” was dangerous and aggressive and he had to use his baton on her.
Starr said his dog was beaten so severely she will have to get her right eye removed next week. Starr also said “Dojie” is never aggressive and the officer abused her for no reason.
“It has already impacted her ability to be able to catch balls and sticks. I do not know how it will impact her ability to save lives on the river,” Starr said. “It's incredibly tough, but I have an enormous support group surrounding me and that is growing every single day.”
Police said they are looking into what happened to determine if there was any animal abuse involved. Stepp was not available to comment Friday. A supervisor would also not comment because of the ongoing investigation.
On Friday, Washington County said in a statement it doesn't tolerate animal abuse of any kind.
"We care deeply about the well-being of animals and the well-being of our community," said Julie McCloud, a spokeswoman for the county. "As with any incident that involves injury to an animal, we are reviewing the situation and looking at all the facts surrounding the incident."
McCloud urged people to remember Starr was not home at the time of the incident and the dogs were at large at the time.
Starr sent up a crowd-funding site to help pay for "Dojie's" eye surgery.
KGW reporter Tim Gordon contributed to this report.