Howard Lake K-9 dog is found deceased

UPDATE: To read the veterinarian’s report issued by the humane society about Felony, click here.

HOWARD LAKE, MN – The Howard Lake Police Department was deeply saddened to discover that its K-9 officer, Felony, was euthanized at an animal humane society recently, according to discussion during the city’s council meeting Tuesday.

“Yesterday (Nov. 16),” Howard Lake Police Chief Tracy Vetruba said, “we discovered that, through a series of mishaps, Felony was taken to the animal humane society. After failing to identify an owner, the animal humane society performed a number of tests to determine his eligibility for adoption. Felony failed to qualify as a family friendly pet and was therefore euthanized.”

Vetruba also said that more details will be released at a later date.

“The Howard Lake Police Department is deeply saddened with this loss,” he added.
Felony has been with the department since 2002, and has been very visible in the community. He worked the night shift with the night officers, yet routinely searched school campuses and performed for public demonstrations during daytime hours, as well. Felony was often quoted as, “The hardest working officer in Howard Lake,” by the previous police chief during narcotics demonstrations throughout the community.


  1. J says:

    Wow, way to go HLPD You just lost about $25,000 of taxpayer money. (25K is what Hutch is estimating it will cost to replace their current K-9 unit)
    I’m happy that I no longer live in Howard Lake and do not have to see my tax dollars wasted due to irresponsibility.
    Frankly, someone should be fired. It’s absolutly unthinkable that this valuable asset would not have had a micro-chip RF implant. Imagine if a squad car went missing? Would it take two weeks to get the information to the paper?

  2. Lynda Jensen, Editor says:

    Tammy Kust Bren posted the following comment on HJ’s Facebook account: “I was the one who found the dog 2 weeks ago. I love dogs, and have 3 of my own. He was very skinny, so I gave him a big bowl of dog food. I called the dog catcher to come and pick him up, because he had a collar on, but no tags. So I figured if it was my dog, I would love for someone to turn him in so he didn’t get hit by a car, and I couldn’t keep him at my house, because he did grawl at me, so I didn’t trust him to be around my dogs. If he would bite one of my chihuahuas they would be dead in a second. So I must have found him around the same day he dissapeared. I had no idea that the police were missing their dog until 2 weeks later when it was in the paper. If they would have notified the dog catcher and the humane society right away, they would have gotten the dog back.”

  3. Humane Society Did Nothing Wrong. says:

    I completely agree with the two previous posts. Now maybe the police department will learn to tattoo or microchip their K-9 companions. Let this be a hard lesson learned. Do not come down on the Animal Humane Society. They just followed protocol. By state law, the dog only needs to be held for 5 days. I believe that this was a very costly mistake. How could the police department not contact their very own impounding staff(or any surrounding humane societies)? It was their very own staff who impounded the dog! Moral of the story, if your dog is worth thousands and thousands of dollars, microchip the da*n thing. This could have been easily avoided.

  4. HikingStick says:

    I believe it would be prudent for all area law enforcement agencies to adopt a policy of micro-chipping their service animals. It would be a minimal expenditure that would help safeguard a significant investment.

  5. DKBSR says:

    Agreeable posts…..a mishap is an unfortunate occurance, happening, or accident. Things happen and dogs do tend to explore if given a chance. But why not IMMEDIATELY put out an “APB” when first discovered missing? I’m not saying Amber Alert necessity, but remember – it was a valuable part of our city Police force.

  6. Eric says:

    As a former resident of Howard Lake this story seriously concerns me. This dog “FELONY” which I used to live near has been neglected on many occasions. I know myself and other neighbors would have to call Wright County Dispatch at night to have someone go pick up FELONY because he was barking so much in the middle of the night. There have been many times in which FELONY was not picked up for work at night. I was told that he was not used everyday by the HLPD. So I say to myself this, How do you want the dog to work if it’s not working on a regular basis? I find it crazy that so many K9 dogs are out there across the country and this is the only one I have heard of not being “CHIPPED”. Even the U.S. Army “CHIPS” their K9′s for this exact reason; if not and including theft of the K9. I am very ashamed of the HLPD at this time and I hope this becomes a learning experience for everyone involved.

  7. Krista says:

    I find it hard to believe that in this day and age that the police department doesn’t microchip its K9s. Bizarre.

  8. dfb says:

    If I had a dog that escaped from time to time there would be a fine! Why was the missing dog so top secret. If my dog was missing I would have checked with area animal control area pounds and humane society’s! It made news imediatly when it was found out the dog was put down. This is another example of of tax dollars at work!

  9. SherryH says:

    The story of Felony the K-9 officer has been bothering me since I first learned about it. Felony was a very visible member of the Community and contributed much during his time on the force. I didn’t learn he was missing for 2 weeks, I didn’t see any “lost dog” posters, I didn’t see any ads in the newspaper, he was not micro-chipped and now it is questionable if anyone called the Humane Society looking for him. What a sad ending for Felony, who was trained to serve humans in the capacity of a K-9 officer. He was let down by those he served.

    Felony didn’t die in the line of duty, but I do believe he deserves a memorial service as a long standing community member. He was well known to many and I would think many would like to say a proper goodbye. Had a photo from his webpage been passed around and the public notified immediately this tragedy would not have happened.{FE67588F-1F15-4F37-B05C-276B6FA6E4B0}&DE={A927849F-66D6-47CF-84FD-2BBCDE5EC651}

  10. Jennifer says:

    It is tiring to read these entries from people who only know what was blogged. There are always details we all don’t know. The police department did notify city’s dog catcher and area humane societies. How quickly we turn on our own police department that protects us. It’s easy to sit at your computer and detail how others screwed up. Have some compassion, this was not an inanimate object that was lost, it was a partner. To all those who complain about city tax dollars being wasted – I haven’t seen any of you at a city council meeting. Hardly a soul shows up for them, so if you’re so concerned – go educate yourselves.

  11. Anne says:

    However, the humane society said that no record exists of such contact being made. “We have no record of him calling,” Brickley said

  12. dfb says:

    So Jennifer… If in fact the Dog Catcher and the area humane society was notified,Why was Felony put down….Please Educate the rest of us! How many older Black labs with a white face did they catch in Howard lake that day or week? Would it be wrong to think somebody was trying to cover their butt by not saying Felony was missing! I don’t live in Howard Lake,But somehow some of my tax dollars end up there in the end.

  13. Lynda Jensen, Editor says:

    Actually, the gal at the Humane Society also said that if anyone had called, they would have been directed to their web site, where a picture of Felony had been posted. But I didn’t include that in the article, since the Humane Society checked its records, called me back and said definitively that no one had called asking about Felony.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Why was Felony put down – that’s what everyone would like to know, including, I’m sure, the police… Don’t think for a second that the humane society isn’t a little on edge about the incident. How convenient for them not to “have a record” of the call, and regarding the vet’s report, let’s think for a second, who pays the vet? How else are they going to justify euthanizing an animal after just 5 days than to have THEIR vet give it a poor bill of health. His age showed, and they knew nobody would want an old dog. Five days is their standard protocol, but really it’s criminal.

  15. SherryH says:

    There are too many discrepancies in the story about Felony. The standards that a reasonable person would take to find their lost dog were not met. Public awareness (newspapers, posters, bulletin boards), a photo (he had unique features and would be easily identifiable) and genuine concern by personally checking with The Humane Society, Shelters etc. would not have brought the suspicion that something is not right with this story.

    Add to the fact that the person who found the dog had genuine concern over the condition it was in and there will be controvery, especially since she found it the day it went missing. The corraberation by the veterinarian report swings the evidence to the side the dog was not taken care of properly and that is very upsetting.

    The poster “Eric” who says he use to live near Felony says the dog was left many nights barking and had to call Sheriff Dispatch. He mentions he was told Felony was not used everyday. According to what was published in the HJ “Our two evening officers both took Felony on patrol, so he normally was in the squad car seven days a week,” Vetruba commented. Again, more unanswered questions.

    It is my opinion that the person who found the dog did what would be expected, the Humane Society did what was expected, but the HLPD did NOT do what was expected in looking for and searching for their lost K-9.

  16. dogfather says:

    It is obvious that HLPD is not presently worthy of maintaining a K9 officer. I cannot imagine another dollar of public funds going toward one without a significant education process first. I do not even understand how Felony could be left alone in a kennel as normal procedure–K9s generally spend off-duty hours with their handlers. HLPD has to come up with answers to many serious questions or face a department overall.

  17. Concerned says:

    What I find even more disturbing than the fact that they didn’t put up posters, or put an add in the paper immediately, is that when they had the dog, it was not being properly fed. Did someone keep forgetting to swing by and feed it? Or was it really lost for several weeks before they say, and it lost all of its weight? When was the last time it was at a vet? Was it in bad shape for several years? It will be interesting to find out.

  18. Dfb says:

    Don’t forget,Felony got out of his collar Too!

  19. tammy bren says:

    No, he didn’t get out of his collar. I was the one who found him. He was wearing his collar, it just didn’t have any tags. I clipped my leash to it, then when I gave him to the dog catcher, he clipped his leash to it. I find it hard to believe that both tags fell off. I don’t think that they put the tags on. The pictire the police show, has a tag that is a red rabies tag, in the shape of a dogs head. My dogs haven’t had that tag for many years. The tags now days are square and silver color. The picture they show is very old.

  20. Unbelievable says:

    Can’t believe the police department doesn’t microchip their k9 units. It will cost you under $50!!!!!

  21. wow says:

    Anyone see the story on KARE 11 on this?
    The HL dog catcher had the dog but told the cop that he did not.
    Almost the same thing happened to another HL resident.
    Lets quit blaming the humane society and I bet the City of HL and the dog catcher learned a lot from this.
    Plus 2 positives things came out of this;
    1) The dog did not suffer.
    2) Other K-9 units started microchipping their K-9′s

  22. angel says:

    Shame on the Howard Lake Police Department!!! I did see the story on Kare 11!! I had no Idea that they kept Felony at the Water Treament Plant. I live not far from that facility and I always heard a dog barking at night, I am sure now that it was Felony. So they say that he was usually out on patrol with the night shift, if that is the case than why did we hear him barking. I thought that the handler of Felony was to take him home and make him part of the family!! That is what most K-9 officers do. Not left at a Water Treatment facility. Does not take rocket science to figure that he was probably left alone a lot!! “Out of sight out of mind”!!! I can say that I saw Felony “NEVER” with the any of the police…ever. I did see him all the time with the last Police Chief we had. He had Felony with him all the time!! Wonder how he feels about this situation? I will be at the next City Council Meeting to bring up this matter.
    Felony should have left with the last Chief of Police and not stayed back with with the new one!!!!

  23. tammy bren says:

    The dog catcher told the police that he had a black lab their. He said it was bone thin and in bad shape. The police didn’t go to look at it because they didn’t think their dog looked like that.The dog catcher and I (the one who found him) would never have thought that the police dog would look in so bad of shape. I actually wanted the dog off of my property ASAP, because the dog looked sick, and I didn’t want my dogs to get sick too. The dog had absolutely NO personality at all, and looked very tired and no energy. At first I gave him some treats, Beggin strips, and he didn’t look happy or even wag his tail. Then he gobbled up a big bowl of food. Usually when you give a dog a treat, they smile and wag their tail. Thats why I thought he might have a disease. I can’t believe that the police didn’t realize that the dog was under fed, but myself, the dog catcher, and the humane society all could recognize it.

  24. wow says:

    The dog catcher never told the cop that he had a black lab and now he is covering his a**.
    He told him that he had a dog of a “mix” breed and then told him that “this is not your k-9, I know your k-9.” He couldnt even tell that the dog was not fixed. I wonder what training the dog catcher has?
    He also told the cop that the dog had nothing around his neck.
    I also talked to a friend who lives next to the water treatment facility and they never heard Felony bark. There are other dogs that live around the water treatment plant.
    The dog was living at the water treatment plant for a long time and nobody said anything about it until now. You people sure are observent.
    People always complain about the cops but they always call them when they cant deal with their stupid “drama.”
    Mistakes were made by everyone but we always blame the ones that protect us.
    How come we did not read the story about our cops helping catch a guy who was driving around with guns (AK-47) and meth in his car? Oh thats right, thats a positive thing.

  25. wow says:

    Mrs. Bren,

    How come you did not call the police when you found the dog?
    They have a much better network and are able to track down the owners.
    The dog catcher doesnt call dispatch to see if there was a report of missing dogs in the area. He dont even call the cops to tell them that he caught a dog.
    If my dog were to run off, I know who I’m calling.

  26. angel says:

    Hey Mr.Wow!!!!
    You need to go back a couple comments and read the one Eric wrote on November 19th at 4:01!! Clearly said that he lived by the Water Treatment Plant, and the dog would bark and someone would call Dispatch!!! I think if you live close enough you can tell who’s dog is barking!! Maybe it wasn’t Felony but its very clear to me that the dog wasn’t taken care of properly!! When the dog was found he was very unhealthy, if the police had seen the dog on a regular basis don’t you think that they could tell he was sick and bring him to a vet!! Lots of unanswered questions!! Here is the deal…I don’t think the HWPD deserves another K-9 dog!!! Clearly they have no Idea how to take care of a dog!! Didn’t even give FELONY five minutes of their time to go and make sure it was not their dog that the dog catcher had!! Very sad!! Maybe the HLPD should just stick to catching the bad guys without a K-9 dog!! This is far from over!!

  27. Bev Schmitz says:

    DISGUSTING! Now we know why this dog was so skinny when it was found the same day it disappeard! It had probably tried to get away for several years but never had the chance. He finally saw an opportunity to escape from his mis-treatment and took it! Not micro-chipped?!?! Guess they certainly didn’t want him back any time soon (or identified). Now it makes me wonder if he “lost” his tags or if he ever had any.
    Well, folks, another blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars. Are you surprised? Anyone that loves their animal (or professes to love the animal they are partnered with and work with) would NEVER EVER let this happen! How many days had the dog been gone before they needed him to “work” and found him missing? It sounds like this dog didn’t work every night, so now I wonder if he got FED every night? Obviously not! Was he also mistreated in other ways? Was he given water “every day” or just when he was needed to “work”? I’m sure glad the neighbors could enlighten us with the “true story” of what happened with this dog, because it sure wasn’t forthcoming from the police dept.

    I DO NOT BELIVE that the Howard Lake police dept deserves to have this dog replaced! Obviously they don’t need one for anything but the “presentations” they do at the county fairs and schools. Wake up taxpayers of Howard Lake – I’m sure this isn’t the first waste of your taxpayer dollars and certainly won’t be the last! That cop should be fired or face criminal prosecution for animal abuse.

    I sure hope there’s a follow-up to this story. In-depth reporting on his vet visits and history would be an eye-opener, I’m sure.

    In respone to WOW’s comment…I would never call the police if I found a stray dog. If no tags, I’d call the local vet office or Humane Society.

  28. tammy bren says:

    Wow wants to know why I didn’t call the police when I found the dog. I have found many lost dogs over the years, and have never called the police. I didn’t know that they wanted to be bothered with every found animal. If the dog is wearing tags, I deliver the dog back home. If no tags, I call the dog catcher. I just assume that’s what you are supposed to do. The dog catcher must fill out some sort of paperwork that I assume goes to the city, so he would get paid. I guess from now on, every time I see a stray, I will call 911.

  29. SherryH says:

    I have been waiting for the dog catcher to weigh in here and hear his side of the story. I have heard and read a few different versions of what the dog catcher has said or did. If there is a written record somewhere, could someone please direct me to it? I have asked Lynda Jensen and so far I don’t believe he has returned any messages to the paper.

    Tammy did you talk directly to the dog catcher about his contact with the HLPD? I do remember you messaging me that when you saw the article on Monday the 16th and first found out that Felony went missing you called the police and told them you had turned a dog in. When you told them it had a choke collar and did their dog have a choke collar you said the person you spoke with said they didn’t know. Then you said the dog looked old and that it had white on it’s face and feet and did their dog have white feet? Again you said the person said they didn’t know. At that time you told them they should check with the dog catcher because he may have their dog. (hopefully I summarized that accurately)

    Does anyone know who answers the phone when you call the police and why wouldn’t they know what their own dog looked like?

    wow…you have a different version of what the dog catcher has to say. Can I ask…did you speak directly to him or to the officer? I would like to hear from both of them and not second hand information.

    Is anyone able to check with dispatch to see how many calls were made to them pertaining to a barking dog at the water treatment plant? I would assume those calls are logged but do not know for sure.

    I am glad this is being talked about and I hope that we eventually find all the answers because I read that HLPD may be looking into getting another K-9 in the spring and I would hate to see the same mistakes made again.

  30. Lori Swanson says:

    I personally am appalled at this entire deal. This poor little creature, even though he cost the department $5,000 (big frickin woop!), was literally their prisoner. From 2002 til 2009 he lived in a kennel at the Wastewater treatment plant. No socialization outside of the officers who put him in their patrol cars. Granted, police dogs need specialized training, and the kennel is their alone time, but too much alone time can kill any spirit. This poor little dog had no life. I have had dogs all my life and I know that a 10 year old dog will not be skin and bones with proper care and veterinarian checks, which I believe this poor baby had none. An older dog needs special foods and care. The bugs and heat in the summer and the cold in the winter are way too hard on any old dog, and to be left alone to just deal with it is beyond my comprehension. When I saw the first article a week ago about how the K9 dog had “escaped his kennel” I thought that the journalist had just used poor wording. Now I am so saddened to know that that wording was right on. So, HLWW K9 police, you knew his time as an officer (gag me) was coming to an end so what were you going to do with him, certainly bringing him into your homes and loving him wouldn’t be an option. He won’t work in the civilized world the way he is… so you euthanize him and start over. Hope to God you guys don’t get another dog. RIP Felony.

  31. dfb says:

    Tammy Bren did exactly what she was supposed to do!It was the police not doing their job.I personaly would have looked into any dog picked up in the time frame felony was missing.Anyone else would be in big trouble!

  32. Lori Swanson says:

    And Tammy, don’t get why you are being ripped on. You are the hero in this case. This dog needed to be removed from his environment (he did it himself) and you did what any animal loving person would do. And euthanasia in his particular case was a good thing.

  33. wow says:

    Mrs. Bren,
    I was just asking a question and I was not ripping on you.

    To others,
    You have made up your decisions by reading one newspaper article. Dont believe everything you read. There’s a reason why the dog catcher did not return editors phone calls.
    I saw the dog that week and he was taken care of and he did not escape because of his living conditions.
    He also had more people contact then some of your animals.

  34. Lynda Jensen, Editor says:

    Actually, wow — you’re arguing with one of the few witnesses who saw the dog alive last. You don’t have to believe the article, either . . .

  35. Retired_Vet says:

    What a wonderful idea there wow! Everytime we see a loose animal, we can contact our own police to handle it through their network! (Read the sarcasm). Then when we read the police report in the Herald-Journal, it can be pages long like the forclosure pages. Okay, sarcasm done.

    We honestly do not need a K9 currently. Maybe in the future, but for now, Wright County is only a quick call away if we need the use of one. If we do eventually get another one, it should be partnered up with one of our officers to live with also. A supplemental pay to help with the daily cost of caring for the dog would be more beneficial to the animal and probably more cost-efficient at the same time.

  36. fanofthedogcatcher says:

    My big question is I thought it was common knowledge to never leave a choke collar on a dog unless the animal is training or working. I am pretty sure that is one of the first things you learn when you are training a dog. What owner would not go and look at the dog when the dog catcher says they have a black dog. I also think this police department now just did not know how to take care of an animal. I used to see officer Sonnek play with the dog when he was still at our police department. I find it so funny how our tax payers dog going missing did not make the paper the monday after the dog went missing. I think it all comes down to the police department trying to cover their own butts. I do not see anyone else at fault everyone else followed protocol.

  37. confused says:

    I have one question no one has asked… do they know for sure that it was felony? did they see him after he was put to sleep? did Tammy get a stray dog running around town and felony is some where else still very much alive? just curious…….

  38. tammy bren says:

    I think they know it was Felony that got put to sleep, because the humane society took pictures of him and put them up on the website, with all of the other found pets. I assume that they were shown the pictures, when they called their on Nov 16th to see if they had their dog. Just my guess.

  39. Anonymously Irritated says:

    I’m afraid of getting ARRESTED again for my dog barking in the middle of the night, so I’ll stay anonymous. (Somehow she managed this while sleeping in my room on the floor and without awakening me)…. This isn’t a joke, it really happened, though the officers story changed as time progressed. Other smart as*ed comments were made prior to the charges.

    This is yet another example of why the government should not have unrestricted access to my money.

    I feel sorry for the dog, he’s the biggest victim followed by the taxpayers. I have also on numerous occasions heard him barking in the middle of the night. The report of the dog being malnourished is infuriating, a long with the poor effort to retrieve this highly skilled, and high cost animal. The police screwed up, the gal who found him the dog catcher and the humane society all seem to have done their jobs.

  40. also anonymous says:

    In defense of HLPD, I also saw Felony on a regular basis with the night shift police officers. I didn’t think he was being mistreated or underfed. Skinny maybe, but he’s old and that’s not entirely uncommon. Also, service dogs aren’t supposed to be fat. Sorry folks.
    Alot of you mentioned that it was mistreatment for Felony to be kenneled at night and not brought to an officer’s home. Again, although that would be nice, let’s remember kids, this is a service dog, not a pet.
    Felony was a member of the force, and it’s great to know he won’t be easily forgotten. From now on police forces, dog catchers, and humane societies across the state will remember Felony and think twice before they jump to conclusions.

    It makes me sick how quickly all of you turn on the people who are sworn to protect you and your loved ones. No one pays attention to the crimes prevented and the arrests made, but you’re sure quick to attack them if someone slips up along the line. Even if that someone is a sub-standard dog catcher.

  41. HL Resident says:

    First of all I would like to say that just because many of us feel that someone in the Police Dept. failed this poor dog most of us are still very thankful to them for all the good they do for our community. Although the good does not excuse the fact that Felony’s situation was not as it should be. While visiting family in another state I had mentioned what had happened- everyone there- over 20 people – from 4 different states had never ever heard of a department keeping a K9 officer in a kennel and not with a trained handler… kenneling this poor dog was the first poor decision of many it seems. The follow up while Felony was missing also was handled poorly by the department in my opinion. I see lost dog ads in the Herald all the time- why did you not let the community help!!!

    I would like someone to post if there will be a public council meeting or something on this… As tax payers we should be involved in the decision as to whether they should get a new K9 officer and if they do that it is required that they improve their protocol for the care and keeping.

    As a side note- my husband and I remember when Sonnek was here and brought the dog to Memorial Park for ball games… we have not seen much of Felony in the last 2 years in the community which is sad. Just another note that Felony obviously deserved more than He received in recent years!

  42. CheriLynn says:

    Lynda do you know if they will be having a public meeting?

  43. Lynda Jensen, Editor says:

    Yes, the meeting was last night and they talked about Felony at length, ending the city’s contracts with the humane society and with the dog catcher (unofficial contract with him). Reporter Ivan Raconteur attended the meeting and is writing the story now. For those who wish to contact the Howard Lake council, I recommend sending an email to Administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp ( or using the contact list that is posted on our web site —

  44. Anonymously Irritated says:

    also anonymous, get off your high horse and look at the information that has been disclosed publicly. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture for how the dog was treated, it’s one thing for a dog to be fit, another to be emaciated and poorly socialized. It also appears that our dog catcher lost his post and the humane society is being punished for something that appears to be the fault of the officers for not following up with either the dog catcher, the humane society, or the local paper until it was far too late.

    Please enlighten me as to what crimes have been prevented? I have lived in Howard Lake almost my entire life, and the local police have been there to annoy and harass far more than to protect and serve. It isn’t as though there is a lot of crime in our community and almost every other community in Wright County gets by with the WC Sheriff’s officers just fine.

    That is my opinion, and if you disagree, argue the points, don’t patronize people who differ from your views, it puts your ignorance and lack of an ability to formulate an argument on display.

  45. fanofthedogcatcher says:

    To also anonymous how can you say our towns dog catcher was sub-standard. I find it funny how you and wow can place the blame on the dog catcher and can not see any fault with the police department. I think it is terrible that the police did not release the information to the public with pictures of the dog as soon as the found the dog missing. I also believe the officers involved in this should be in trouble too.