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Outrage occurs over dead puppy found in Stillwater River

Last week, Orono’s tight-knit community spoke out with concern and shock after local police announced the discovery of a dog’s body in the Stillwater River. With no new information, the local story took national headlines over the past few days. Orono shares its bereavement with the rest of the country, hopeful for more information and identification of the culprit.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, the Orono Police Department released a statement saying the puppy’s corpse was found in the Stillwater River near Webster Park. The male goldendoodle dog was fished out of a backpack weighed down by a concrete block. Inside the bag, the lifeless puppy was still wearing its collar, a white band with rose gold embellishments. 

As the story gained attention, more and more people rushed to the internet with theories, outcries and supposed tactics. Coming to the investigators’ aides, commentators on Facebook gave ideas, from how to track down the owner of the Planet Fitness bag that the dog was found in to offering methods on spreading the news to lost dog sites to contributing possible clues. Another individual found that the collar on the puppy could be tracked through a Bangor pet store purchase. As the police continue to turn to Orono residents for help, the internet produces more propositions, with no new information turned up.

“If the puppy was stolen before tragic events happened, maybe someone put flyers up or contacted local vets about their puppy missing?” wrote a commenter on the Orono Police Department’s Facebook. 

Other individuals, given the information of the specific breed of puppy, urge police to find Maine breeders to track down the sale of the puppy. 

“Have we checked with breeders in the area? If it’s a puppy, I’m sure you can find who has sold Golden doodles recently.” Another commenter writes.

Other commenters wrote from different, if not adverse angles, raising concern from unpopular places: “Maybe there should be some concern over the individual that at one time was wearing the backpack? Could they be in the river too, but their body not found?”

This theory has been criticized, but with police not coming up with much, conjectures rise from states of uncertainty. 

“I don’t know. It’s winter in Maine, maybe the dear little thing just died, and the owner couldn’t afford a cremation? I am trying to think of situations that don’t involve animal cruelty… clearly, someone cared about the dog enough to get it a nice collar,” was written as another Facebook comment.

However, not everyone shocked by the case carries such positive ambivalent feelings toward this case. The police have marked this an animal cruelty case, some individuals hypothesizing possibilities of layered foul play. 

“The fact that it had a collar on makes me think it wasn’t the owner that did this,” wrote another Facebook commenter. 

This tragedy left the community scrambling for reasoning and seeking closure. However, as time passes since the puppy was found and the publishing of news articles becomes further apart, the community is forced to move past this with no explanation. The Orono Police have yet to give any new information, although their helpline is still open. Anyone with information is asked to contact Orono Detective Sergeant Mike Cyr at (207) 866-4000 or via email at

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