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Michigan Guard Arrested for Killing the Service Dog He Adopted at His Prison

By Jo Ellen Nott

A former guard employed by the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO), was fired and arrested on April 25, 2022, for allegedly torturing and killing a dog. An investigation by the Saginaw Animal Care and Control led officials to Jacob Wilkinson, 25, who was still on the job at the Genesee County Jail in Flint.

He is accused of torturing his adopted pet after the dog nipped him while Wilkinson was trimming the animal’s toenails. Wilkinson’s former employer, Sheriff Cristopher Swanson, said the nip surprised his former employee, who believed he had more control of the dog. Reacting to the nip, Wilkinson wrapped duct tape around the dog’s muzzle and legs. He then drove the immobilized pet to a ditch and shot it three times in the head, leaving it there to die.

There were reportedly no red flags in Wilkinson’s background pointing to an individual who might torture and kill a pet. He graduated with honors from Saginaw Valley State University with a minor in psychology, and he was an Emergency Medical Technician who had trained as a combat medic and is a member of the Michigan National Guard. Wilkinson worked for DOC from May 2021 until late January 2022, when he started work with GCSO.

The dog’s fate was uncovered after a weeks-long investigation by the Saginaw Animal Care and Control. Investigators learned that the dog had originally been sent to Blue Star Service Dogs, a nonprofit that places rescue animals and sends them to prisons, where inmates train them to become service dogs for veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

But because of its friendly nature, this dog did not pass the test to become a service animal, according to the director of the humane society that had placed the animal in the Blue Star program. However, the pit-bull mix passed a basic obedience training course, and Wilkinson, who was working in the prison at the time, decided to adopt the dog.

Wilkinson’s next court date is not known. His attorney filed a request for adjournment of the probable cause hearing on May 9, 2022, citing a need for additional discovery and records.

Sources: Advance Newspapers, WJRT, Washington Post

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