HYDRO — People are questioning whether police could have found an alternative to killing a man's poodle while he was in jail for breaking the dog out of the pound.
The ruckus started about two weeks ago when 73-year-old Edwin Fry used bolt cutters to free the dog, Buddy Tough, and left on his riding lawn mower with the animal on his lap.
Police arrested Fry at gunpoint a few miles from the city kennel and took the dog, Buddy Tough.
Fry said he couldn't pay the $100 it would take to free his dog legally and didn't want the animal put down.
Hydro's police chief told a local newspaper publisher the dog was held for three days, placed in a box and killed with carbon monoxide from the exhaust pipe of a police car.
Some residents in this Caddo County town of about 1,000 would like to see justice for the dog and his owner.
"The last time we had this big of a stink in Hydro was when there was talk about putting a hog farm in," said Joyce Carney, publisher of the Country Connection News.
Backlash over case
The three-person town council is scheduled Tuesday to discuss the predicament. Fry and Buddy Tough's story caught national attention, and angry animal lovers have been calling Hydro's town hall expressing their disdain.
Earlier this week, police officer Chris Chancellor said he already had fielded eight calls from non-residents in the first hour of his shift.
"Most of them start out really angry, but once I explain the entire situation they seemed to calm down," Chancellor said. "We have a history with Mr. Fry, and it's not a good one."
Chancellor said Fry once climbed a silo with a rifle. Another time he tried to buy a bullet-resistant vest, saying he wanted to shoot cops, the officer said.
"He's a character, but you never know if it could turn into something more dangerous," Chancellor said.
The dog was taken to the pound on complaints that it was running loose, he said.
He said Fry's son was notified when he went to jail and told he could retrieve the dog. Instead, Fry spent several days behind bars, and after three days, as outlined in a city ordinance, Buddy Tough was euthanized, he said.
Fry is facing a misdemeanor charge of breaking and entering.
Chancellor said Buddy Tough was euthanized in a "gas chamber" with "carbon monoxide."
He said the town's police chief handled the matter and possibly took the dog to a veterinarian in Weatherford.
The town clerk claims she has no record or financial receipt showing the dog was taken to an animal hospital.
The Oklahoman's calls to the Police Chief Mike "Colonel" Sanders were not returned.
Carney said the situation causes her stomach to turn.
"We are not that kind of town," Carney said. "I don't want people to think that we live like this. We are good people that care about our neighbors."
Hydro resident Linda Issac said someone would have taken in the dog to keep him from being destroyed, or taken him to a no-kill shelter.
"I don't think the situation was handled right, and I think it's opened our eyes to what's going on here with animals," Issac said. "I don't condone anyone breaking the law, but someone could have shown some flexibility for the man."
Hydro resident Mona Woods said she thinks the officers killed the dog just to show their authority.
"These two need to answer to someone," Woods said. "If that's the kind of officers we have, we need to make some changes."
The town's mayor, Bill Glasscock, said he knows little about what happened to Fry and his dog, but all that will be worked out in Tuesday's meeting. He said he expects a full house.
Glasscock said he's not opposed to changing ordinances on animal control, but wants residents to realize there is no money in the city budget to build a new animal shelter.
"We barely have the money to keep the things we have going," Glasscock said. "If people want an animal shelter they're going to have to raise money for it, and keep paying to maintain it."
Support for Fry
The Oklahoman's website, NewsOK.com, received more than 400 comments about the story of Fry and his effort to save his dog.
A reader logged in as Pearliemea, of Los Angeles wrote this:
"I just can't believe that after arresting a 73-year-old senior citizen, they euthanized his pet while he's in jail. This is one of the cruelest, vilest, uncaring things I have ever heard. Whoever did this should be sued, removed from office or fired."
Another reader established an online Facebook page to honor the dead dog. A Cushing man said he will donate $1,000 toward legal fees if Fry sues the town.
Clinton Sanders, a sociology professor at University of Connecticut, said he's not surprised people are reacting the way they are about Fry and his dog.
Sanders studies the relationship between humans and dogs.
"Stories like this become symbolic of the way we care about animals and a reflection of our own humanity," Sanders said.