Monday, May 24, 2021

Man Hanged Hero Dog

The Cruelest Act

By Robert A. Waters

 On December 1, 1937, Daniel Bartlett, 15, and his brother, Bernard, 13, were playing around the old Glen Haven Line Bridge in Irondequoit, New York, when they came upon a gruesome sight. Dangling by a rope from bridge rafters was Laddie, described as a “mongrel collie-shepherd.” Claw marks on the concrete showed that the dog had not gone to his death gently.

Laddie had achieved a degree of renown in the small community for saving the lives of three children over a five-year period.

Superintendent William J. Boyink of the Humane Society told reporters that “for inhumaneness, this is one of the worst cases that [has] ever come to my attention.” He stated the Society would push local police to press animal cruelty charges against the perpetrator, if caught.

Roy McLean, 13, was one of those saved by Laddie. “It was four years ago,” reported the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, “that [Roy] was caught in the swift current of the Irondequoit Bay outlet and realized he couldn’t make the shore. As he cried for help, Laddie plunged into the water, swam to the side of the youngster, and then made for shore with Roy clinging to his collar.”

Police, sheriff’s deputies, and members of the humane society began trailing the killer. They got a clue when they discovered the pet’s owner, Mr. Robert McLean, had found Laddie’s collar tied to the doorknob of their home. McLean, who owned a business in town, had recently fired fifty-year-old Ferdinand Gagnon for incompetence and told police this might be the man’s way of “getting back.”

Police located Gagnon, who quickly admitted to the cruel act. He stated that after being terminated, “the dog followed me out and, since I never did like it and knew the family did, I cut a piece of clothesline down and hanged it.”

The newspaper recounted another time the dog saved the lives of two children at once. The boys were out in a boat when one, Jackie Reeves, tumbled into the water. The second child dove in to save his friend but Reeves panicked and begin pushing his friend under. Laddie jumped in and swam toward the boys. They each grabbed his collar and he towed them to safety.

After being informed of Laddie’s brutal death, Roy McLean began sobbing. “Laddie’s dead now,” he told reporters. “But I would like to know who did it. Laddie never hurt anyone. Only Friday he was playing with us boys on the lawn while we were waiting for Santa Claus to appear.”

Ferdinand Gagnon pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. Many residents thought that was not enough.

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