Nala, a German shorthaired pointer, and her three surviving pups are being cared for at the Menominee Animal Shelter. Six puppies from the litter were found in a Dumpster Nov. 24 but failed to survive due to nutritional distress and exposure to the elements. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Nala, a German shorthaired pointer, and her three surviving pups are being cared for at the Menominee Animal Shelter. Six puppies from the litter were found in a Dumpster Nov. 24 but failed to survive due to nutritional distress and exposure to the elements. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
MENOMINEE - An arrest has been made in the puppy dumping case in Menominee. Six black Labrador-mix puppies were found last month tied up in a plastic bag at the bottom of a Dumpster at Holiday gas station on 10th Avenue.

The week-old pups were rushed to the animal shelter for treatment but complications from lack of nutrition and the elements were too much for them to overcome.

Since then, efforts have been made to identify the person who left them to die. Reward posters offering $1,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction have flooded the area. Police have received numerous tips and over the weekend one of them paid off.

"The guy (tipster) didn't want to get involved but he came forward and had some very good information and it led to an arrest, which was good," said Det. Lt. Brian Barrette.

Formal charges could come as soon as today from the Menominee County's Prosecuting Attorney's office. "It's been submitted to our office for charges and I'm still reviewing it," said Assistant Prosecutor Bill Merkel. "I haven't made a charging decision on it yet."

The suspect is only being described as a man from Menominee.

In an earlier interview, Deputy Police Chief James Furlong said his department was handling the case as animal neglect and that whoever was responsible would hopefully be prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law."

The investigation has led to an interesting twist. The dog that gave birth to the puppies apparently had a litter of nine, not six. Three surviving puppies, now about a month old, were found with the mother after a search warrant was executed at the home of the owner. They and the mother are being cared for at the animal shelter. A decision about their fate could rest with the results of what happens in court.

On the investigative side, Todd Roach, the police officer who responded to the original call, also received a tip mentioning the suspect's name. After being confronted, the suspect reportedly confessed to disposing of the pups and was arrested.

The news traveled quickly to Julie Derusha, president of the Menominee Animal Shelter. "They got him," she exclaimed during a telephone interview. "And we have the mom and the pups at the shelter right now."

Had the suspect not confessed, expensive DNA testing would have been necessary to prove the link between the dead puppies and those that survived.

Many people in the community have stepped forward with reward money. It will now be up to the police department to see if the $1,000 will go to one person or be shared among several people providing information.

Derusha said this incident has raised awareness of the growing pet population in the area. "It's brought so much awareness because of this one incident," she said. "It goes back to educating people and teaching them what to do and what is right and wrong. Apparently no one ever taught this guy."

Mike Desotell can be contacted at 715-735-7500, ext. 145, or at mdesotell@eagleherald.com.