‘Unthinkable’: Prosecutor investigates animal abuse in Kent Co.

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Higgins, the cute pup whose beating was captured on camera, continues to do well.

The dog is recovering after a video was shared on social media showing the dog being repeatedly punched. An examination by a local vet showed no severe injuries.

As that case continues to move forward, it is shedding a light on the Animal Cruelty Task Force within the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office. It is a one-man prosecuting team that works with local law enforcement animal control and veterinarians to keep animals safe. 

Images of Higgins captured hearts. His case is heartbreaking, but unfortunately, it’s one of the more minor cases that the Animal Cruelty Task Force sees.

“The most common cases are unlawfully killing a dog or severely injuring a dog. Hitting it so bad that you break it’s leg or shooting it, something like that,” said assistant prosecutor Dan Helmer.

Helmer has a little girl boxer who runs things at home, but at work he runs the Animal Cruelty Task Force.

“To you or I it’s absolutely unthinkable,” Helmer said. “I just have to look at it like something happened and is it a violation of the law and if it is what are we going to do about it.”

So far, the unit has issued charges ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony in seven cases this year. New cases come once a month for review and charges.

Helmer says most, if not all, involve dogs and many are related to domestic abuse cases. He hopes that the Higgins case reminds people that violence against animals has serious consequences.

“I think there is a misconception out there that we don’t take these issues seriously,” said Helmer.

Higgins’ owner, Jon Wilcox, is out on a $500 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 21 at 1:30 p.m. over video.

Higgins remains in the care of the Kent County Animal Control.

News 8 will continue to follow the case. 

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