HOULTON, Maine — The former executive director of the Houlton Humane Society will not be charged with a crime in connection with the death earlier this year of a dog that she admitted died in her care.
Aroostook County District Attorney Todd Collins said Friday that his office has concluded its investigation into the death of the 11-month-old pit bull mixed-breed, known as Harley, which died in February while being cared for at the home of Heather Miller, who at the time oversaw operations at the animal shelter. Collins said that his office would not normally release information since Miller was not being charged with a crime, but was doing so because of the amount of local interest.
During an interview with the Bangor Daily News in February, Miller said that the dog suffered fatal injuries from an accidental fall down a set of stairs at her home because of a neurological condition he suffered from since birth. According to Miller, the dog had a difficult time controlling his body and would flop around, falling into cupboards and the refrigerator and injuring himself, and was often kept in a playpen.
Miller said that on the day of the accident, she took him upstairs to give him a break from his playpen when he slammed through a baby gate she had at the top of the stairs and fell down the stairs, suffering fatal wounds.
After his death, however, Miller admitted that instead of telling the truth about the dog’s death, she posted on Facebook that Harley had been adopted by another individual.
The truth was discovered after she put the dog’s body in a freezer at the shelter to await cremation.
Shortly afterward, the shelter asked for Miller’s resignation.
Collins said that his office reviewed all reports, videos and records submitted before deciding not to bring charges.
“There is not sufficient evidence to show that a crime was committed,” he said. “The necropsy report prepared by Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner confirms that the euthanasia of Harley the dog was done according to legally proscribed methods. There were no indications that the dog was abused in any way. Ms. Miller was certified by the state Department of Agriculture to euthanize pet animals at the Houlton Humane Society. “
Collins said that Miller’s certification was issued on Dec. 12, 2010 and that his office confirmed that the certification was current at the time Harley was euthanized.
“The investigation into this matter was taken with care and all due seriousness,” he said.
“We wish to thank all of those who have expressed concern for this case and for giving the police the time and the space required to conduct a complete investigation for our review. It is due to the quality of that investigation conducted by the Houlton Police Department in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture that we were able to reach what we feel is the proper conclusion according to the laws of Maine and the Constitution of the United States.”
Miller was not immediately available for comment Friday.