The family of Kelli Bruce, whose dogs were poisoned, is still mourning the loss of the their pets.

The Humane Society of the United States is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the poisoning of the Bruce family’s dogs.

Bruce was on her way home from the grocery store Nov. 20 when her children called and told her something was happening to their dogs and they were dying.

“When I got home, it was complete pandemonium. The kids were screaming and hugging their dogs. Half of them were dead, and the other half were dying.”

Soon afterward a third dog died. A chocolate lab named Cocoa was the only one that survived. Bruce noticed that someone had left strange food in her driveway. She called the Pontotoc County sheriff’s office to report what had happened. After examining evidence at the scene, deputies believe the dogs were deliberately poisoned. Based on the side effects, a local veterinarian believes it was strychnine that killed the dogs. Strychnine is a common ingredient found in rat poison.

Bruce told deputies someone had threatened to kill her dogs before. Earlier that day, her son had seen a familiar vehicle stopped in front of their house.

Bruce said the whole thing has been really tough for her, the children and the surviving dog Cocoa.

“My daughter wants another pet, but not an outside pet. She’s afraid someone will hurt it,” Bruce said.

“My oldest son wants to get a new puppy, but I’m afraid to because I don’t think I could stand watching my kids go through what they went through that day if it happened again. I will probably get another dog so the kids can move on and for Cocoa. He is very lonely without his brother and playmates,” Bruce said.

The dogs that died were Hershey, Sassy and Bert. Hershey was a lab and Cocoa’s little brother and loved to follow Cocoa everywhere. Bruce’s family affectionately referred to him as “big brother’s shadow.” Sassy was a Jack-Russell terrier and Chihuahua mix. Bruce’s family took Sassy in after the dog’s mother was hit by a car when Sassy was only four days old.

“Sassy was so full of life and full of energy. She loved to wrestle my slippers off only to put them back on and do it again,” Bruce said.

Bert was a mixed-breed dog the family rescued from a shelter only two-weeks before the tragedy. Bert loved to shake hands and go fishing with Bruce’s son.

An anonymous donor from Oklahoma City sent the Bruce family $100 to help with vet bills and buying new pets. Bruce used some of the money to buy hamster supplies and the Ada Animal House gave the family a dwarf hamster free of charge.

“I just want to say thank you to the family who sent the money helping me have my Christmas wish,” said Bruce’s daughter Taylor. “We got a cute dwarf hamster and I named him Shorty.”

The Humane Society will also be sponsoring training for the Pontotoc County Sheriff’s Department on ways to improve investigations into animal cruelty.

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