A new $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest only — with no conviction necessary — has been added to a $21,500 bounty to solve the death of Roxie, a puppy found hanged and beaten in woods in Bellport.
The unusual step of lowering the reward requirements comes as animals lovers worry the case has gotten cold since Feb. 29, when children discovered the 7-month-old pit bull mix hanging from her pink collar on a tree a few hundred yards from Martha and Bellport avenues.
“All they have to do is give enough evidence for an arrest,” said Robert Misseri, head of the Smithtown-based Guardians of Rescue, which is putting up the new reward money. “There’s always that one person that does know and that’s the one person we want. Things happen, people get in disputes, people get desperate, people man up and we may get lucky.”
Animal advocates had hoped that the $21,500 and growing bounty for information leading to a conviction — one of the largest in a Long Island animal abuse case — would get people to talk, but as time passed, they suspected people were discouraged by the conviction requirement because that can take years.
“Not everyone is convicted,” Misseri added.
Fifth Precinct detectives and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have been investigating and they know who owned Roxie. Now, animal advocates want to know if anyone saw the dog in February and have been trying to figure out the motive for killing Roxie, whose photos have been shared on social media. Her one blue and one brown eye are part of her unique look, along with her fawn, gray and white coloring.
Her death has united the often fractious world of animal rescuers, who have seen many abused animals and say they cannot let this case be forgotten.
They’re working with Suffolk County Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) to designate April 17 Suffolk County Animal Cruelty Prevention Day. That’s the day animal lovers gathered to hold a memorial for her, not far from the woods where she was found.
Browning expected the legislature to vote on the measure by the end of June. “It’s important to protect animals, too,” she said, noting the link between animal and people abuse. “If you have a pet, you know why. It’s a part of your family.”
Fliers with the two rewards will be distributed in the Bellport area by People Advocating for Change, a nonprofit that helps families and pets in the area, and other rescue groups.
“If no killer is arrested, at least her death is not in vain,” said Samantha Mullen, the nonprofit’s cofounder. “Next time something like this happens, we know we need to get together and get in the neighborhood and talk to people and hand out fliers.”
Anyone with information may call anonymously to Fifth Precinct detectives at 631-854-8552 or the SPCA at 631-382-7722.