HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — A Washington County animal control officer is under investigation after allegedly beating a service dog so severely the dog may lose an eye.
On Monday, Marlin Starr’s 9-year-old lab name Doji got out of the backyard and into the street. The animal control officer, Hoyt Stepp, told Starr his dog and another dog were blocking traffic and being aggressive.
That’s when Stepp allegedly hit Doji with a bite stick to the face to get the dog to back down.
But at least two neighbors who saw the incident told KOIN 6 News off-camera the dogs weren’t being aggressive and actually ran back into their own backyard after being confronted by the animal control officers.
“At that point witnesses say the officers followed the dogs into the backyard,” Starr said. “One witness told me your animals were perfectly fine until we could no longer see them.”
None of the witnesses saw what happened in the back yard.
But Doji was hit so hard she’s likely to lose her right eye as a result of the bite stick to the face.
And Starr is steaming mad about it.
Washington County’s Manager of Animal Services Debby Wood told KOIN 6 News the animal control authority does not believe animal abuse occurred, but withheld further comment until Hillsboro Police have finished their investigation.
Wood also said the officer in question, Hoyt Stepp, was doing office work and was not in the field.
Stepp was not home when KOIN 6 News tried to contact him.
Hillsboro Police are just beginning their investigation.
“At this point the case is going to be assigned, is being assigned today to a police officer for investigation to see: do we have elements of animal abuse or do we not,” said Hillsboro Lt. Mike Rouches.
Starr is still upset over the injury to his service dog.
“She’s my baby. She’s my life, and I love her.”