MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Residents in Marshall County were outraged over actions of the county’s animal control officer on Monday afternoon.
Drivers on U.S. Highway 431 came face to face with the remains of a dead dog that appeared to be hanging out of the officer’s truck.
One person who was offended took a picture and emailed it to WHNT NEWS 19, asking us to follow up with the officer’s boss.
WARNING: Some may find the image of the incident included lower in this story graphic.
Marshall County Animal Control Officer Kevin Hooks showed WHNT NEWS 19 the vehicle he drives every day, as he handles all kinds of cases involving animals.
“It’s a hard job,” said Hooks.
But people driving on the highway saw a different look to the truck. Hooks had secured the body of a dead dog to the tailgate of his truck.
One woman took a picture and emailed WHNT NEWS 19 to find out more information.
The witness said a few drivers tried to make Hooks aware of the situation at a traffic light, getting out their vehicles to point to the dog hanging off the back of Hooks’ truck.
“I’m not trying to defend that,” said Marshall County Commission Chairman James Hutcheson.
He said first thing Tuesday morning, he began investigating what happened, meeting with Hooks and listening to his explanation.
“He didn’t have room to put the dead dog in the back,” said Hutcheson about what Hooks told him. “So he put it on the tailgate, which was a mistake and he transported it to be disposed of.”
Hooks told WHNT NEWS 19 he had live stray dogs in the other cages and wanted to keep them from destroying the dead dog. Hooks said he also wanted to avoid making two 70-mile round trips.
“The mistake he made was not making two trips,” said Chairman Hutcheson. “He should have took the live animals and put them in the location and then he should have came back, put the large animal inside the box, closed it up so it wasn’t visible to the public.”
Hooks admits he should have done things differently, but says it shouldn’t cost him his job.
“All I did was try to respectfully discard an animal carcass,” said Hooks. “I didn’t want to leave it for wild animals in the field… I just wish we would have transported it a little different.”
Hooks does have a controversial past in Marshall County. He has held the position for seven years.
In 2012, residents turned in a petition against him to the County Commission, angry over the way he handled various cases.
Hutcheson said he took appropriate action then, but wouldn’t elaborate.
Due to Hooks’ past, this incident could be grounds for dismissal.
Hutcheson says he’s still investigating and will make a decision soon.