MONCKS CORNER -- A pet dog of a 9-year-old girl with autism died because it was hit by a car and not viciously beaten as relatives feared, the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.
The child's mother reported the dog missing Dec. 13 and told investigators that some neighbors had seen it being lured into a black car. She said it was found dead in her front yard Dec. 18 and appeared to have been beaten on the head.
There were no signs of repeated trauma to the dog, according to a necropsy by a veterinarian. It had injuries consistent with being hit by a car, the Sheriff's Office said.
The Sheriff's Office said it is waiting to interview the witnesses who were said to have seen someone trying to abduct the dog. Those witnesses are reported to be out-of-state.
Meanwhile, the girl's mother, Kelley Nolan, 40, of Gaillard Road, and an acquaintance, Stacey Lamont Altman, 32, of Cedar Avenue, were arrested Dec. 23 on charges of receiving stolen goods and obtaining property under false pretenses, the Sheriff's Office reported.
The charges are unrelated to the ongoing investigation concerning the dead dog, authorities said. Kelley Nolan's phone was not working Wednesday.
While being arrested, Altman was found to be in possession of a half-gram of cocaine and was charged with possession of the controlled substance, authorities said.
After being arrested, Kelley Nolan and Altman were released the next day, the Sheriff's Office said.
The same day Nolan was arrested, Berkeley County Councilman Tim Callanan said he went to the Nolan residence with Santa Claus in costume to give the girl, Alle Nolan, an iPad donated by a local retailer.
"There were a lot of people who really were compelled to do something," he said.
Callanan said the mother was present at the time of the visit.
"Mom never asked for anything," he said.
Callanan said he does not know how much money was given to help the girl because he hasn't yet checked a mail slot that was used to collect the funds. It will be refunded to anyone who wants their money back, he said.
Regardless of the circumstances, the girl did benefit from publicity surrounding her missing dog, he said.
"That's really what mattered. I wanted to make her Christmas better," he said.
In an interview with The Post and Courier on Dec. 13, Kelley Nolan said her daughter did not understand why the dog was gone and went from room-to-room looking for it. People came forward offering to donate another dog, but she has said that the family was not ready for another dog yet. She said the family was in the process of moving because the home where they were living was up for sale.
Kelley Nolan said Toby helped the family to care for Alle because it kept track of her and let family members know if she strayed outside. The dog had a calming effect on her, the mother said. The family could not afford a service dog for a child with autism, which can cost upwards of $20,000 because of the training required.
Pet Helpers is offering a $1,000 reward for information about what happened to Toby, a 3-year-old American Bull Terrier, said spokeswoman Carol Linville.
"I want to know where that dog was from Dec. 13 to Dec 18," she said Wednesday.
Linville said that, in her opinion, Toby was a beloved family pet who was well-cared for. The dog was neutered and micro-chipped, she said.
"I don't have any reason to disbelieve her (Kelley Nolan) over this dog," she said.
Dec. 13: Toby, an American Bull Terrier, goes missing from his Moncks Corner home after being let out in the morning. Witnesses report seeing the dog being lured into a black car. Kelley Nolan reports the dog missing to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office.
Dec. 18: Kelley Nolan reports finding Toby dead in the front yard near Gaillard Road. She said the dog appears to have been beaten around the head.
Dec. 23: Berkeley County Councilman Tim Callanan visits the Nolan home to present a donated iPad to Alle Nolan, 3, a girl with autism for whom Toby was a constant companion. Later in the day, Alle Nolan's mother, Kelley Nolan, 40, is arrested by the Sheriff's Office and charged with receiving stolen goods and obtaining property under false pretenses. The Sheriff's Office said the charges are unrelated to its investigation of the dead dog.
Dec. 24: Kelley Nolan is released from jail.
Dec. 28: The Sheriff's Office announced that a necropsy shows Toby had injuries consistent with being hit by a car. Pet Helpers spokeswoman Carol Linville says the organization continues to offer $1,000 for information about what happened to Toby.