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Michigan corrections officer charged after his service dog was shot, dumped in a ditch

Genesee County Corrections Deputy Jacob Wilkinson, who was hired Jan. 31, was arrested on a charge of second-degree torturing or killing of an animal.
A former rescue, Habs was found shot to death in March with his limbs and mouth duct-taped.
A former rescue dog, Habs, was found shot to death in March with his limbs and mouth duct-taped. Humane Society of Macomb

A former Michigan corrections officer has been charged in the death of his service dog after he bound the canine, shot it three times and dumped the remains in a ditch last year, officials said.

Genesee County Corrections Deputy Jacob Wilkinson was fired last Friday after 42 days on the job, Sheriff Christopher R. Swanson said in a video press conference Wednesday.

Wilkinson allegedly killed the dog, named Habs, sometime between September and October because it "nipped at him" as he was cutting the canine's nails, according to the sheriff.

“And that guy … thought he had enough control over the dog that you’re not gonna do that. So he duct-taped the rear legs of the dog, duct-taped the front legs of the dog, duct-taped the muzzle,” Swanson said.

Wilkinson then allegedly dropped the dog's body in a nearby township, where it was discovered by road commission workers, and authorities were notified. Saginaw County Animal Care and Control Director Bonnie Kanicki told that the county road employees reported finding the carcass on March 24 in a ditch near the intersection of West Freeland and Hackett roads in Tittabawassee Township. Swanson did not specify the date the dog was found.

A necropsy found that the dog was shot three times and that it had a microchip ID.

“They used the technology and they tracked that microchip to a resident of Saginaw County ... and they tracked that individual to be Jacob Wilkinson," Swanson said.

Wilkinson had helped train Habs, who was part of a blue star service training program in which inmates within the Michigan Department of Corrections help train service dogs to give to veterans and officers. At the time, Wilkinson was employed by the Michigan Department of Corrections, assigned to the Saginaw area, Swanson said. 

"After the training was complete, he adopted the dog," Swanson said.

Wilkinson applied to join the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office as a corrections officer in December, months after the dog was killed, and was hired Jan. 31.

He "never disclosed in his interview that he shot and killed a dog, that he tortured a dog" — not even during his psychological interview prior to his hiring, Swanson said.

"Never did we know or even think that he’d torture an animal like that," he said.

When Wilkinson was brought in for questioning by detectives, "without giving him the details of all the case, he confessed to everything," and was immediately terminated, Swanson said.

He was arrested on a charge of second-degree torturing or killing of an animal, a felony that is punishable by up to seven years in prison, Swanson said.

Wilkinson was arraigned Tuesday. Bond was set at $10,000, and he was ordered not to possess or purchase a firearm or other dangerous weapon or to have contact with animals, court records show.

His next hearing date is slated for May 9.

NBC News has reached out to Wilkinson's attorney for comment.