The kidnapping and killing of a beloved dog who helped a Moncks Corner family care for a child with autism has prompted an outpouring of support from a community shocked by the crime.
State Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, said Tuesday that he will sponsor legislation to more than double the maximum penalties for such offenses. "What they did was pure evil," he said.
Berkeley County Councilman Tim Callanan, who has a 6-year-old son with autism, said he couldn't sleep Sunday night when he first heard about what happened.
"You've got a lot of people upset about this," Callanan said.
Toby, an American bull terrier and constant companion for 9-year-old Alle Noland, was found dead in the Noland front yard Sunday evening, a victim of blunt-force trauma. He had been missing since Dec. 13.
Berkeley County Republicans have raised $700 for the family and are enlisting assistance from others, Callanan said.
Pet Helpers is offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
"There is no question, anyone capable of this type of brutal act against a loving family pet is a danger to other pets and the community," the organization said in a statement.
Kelley Noland said she appreciates offers of a free puppy, adult dog or specially trained service dog. The family continues to grieve in the wake of Toby's death and is not yet ready to try to replace him, she said. Noland encouraged donations to the Pet Helpers reward fund.
There are no solid leads in the case. Toby was not a nuisance to neighbors, and the family had no enemies. "We are just baffled," she said.
Witnesses told the family they saw a white woman with blond hair lure Toby into a black Dodge Challenger with tinted windows.
Limehouse said that he wants the maximum jail time to be 15 years for killing a police dog, a service dog for the disabled or a dog that is a family pet but in effect acts as a service dog. The maximum fine would rise to $25,000.
Toby was not officially trained as a service dog, but he and Alle were very close. The dog had a calming effect on her and was a constant protective companion. The family could not afford a service dog.
The Sheriff's Office investigation continues. "I hope we get to the bottom of this thing and find out what happened," said spokesman Dan Moon.