Medical Examiner: Human Tissue Found in Dog Feces
by Naja and Arnaud Girard…….
It was 6 months ago. A local liveaboard boater had made an emergency call to the U.S. Coast Guard in Key West, reporting the gruesome discovery of a man dead inside his sailboat.
The scene was not for the faint of heart. The body had been decomposing for days and a severed limb was found on the cockpit floor.
Left open was the question of cause of death. Speculation ran wild – fanned by the understandable concerns and fears of neighbors. [There are some 200 people living on boats in Key West harbor.]
The Blue Paper obtained a copy of the medical examiner’s report.
Jason Atkins was found lying inside his boat. According to Monroe County Medical Examiner Tom Weaver, he’d been dead for nearly 5 days. He was found still clutching a syringe in his right hand. Reportedly the remaining liquid in the syringe tested positive for morphine.
Further testing led the medical examiner to conclude the cause of death was an accidental drug overdose.
But what about the severed arm?
A dog was found alive on the boat. The medical examiner found human tissue in the dog’s feces. It is assumed that the dog, left on the boat with nothing to eat for more than 4 days, tore his owner’s arm off and began eating it.
From the medical examiner’s report:
The deceased is a 39-year-old male, who was found on 06/11/2015 at 08:30 hours on his boat anchored off of Key West. The deceased was found clasping a syringe in his right hand. The left hand was severed from the body and present in the cockpit portion of the boat. However, a dog was removed from the boat and dog feces collected on the boat contained human tissue. Postmortem toxicological analysis of muscle tissue reports morphine=104 ng/g and oxycodone=40.2 ng/g. Morphine was also noted in the urine without the presence of acetylmorphine. Therefore based upon the information available to me at this time it is my opinion that the cause of death is best certified as acute combined drug intoxication with the manner of death classified as accident.”
— Thomas Beaver, Monroe County Medical Examiner
The Huffington Post reported in 2011, about 7 dogs that had survived for more than two weeks by eating their dead owners. This raised a question as to whether dogs, who had broken such a taboo, could be trusted; whether they could be offered for adoption or whether they should be put to death. What about the safety of little children, argued some residents. It took two months for the local (Saskatoon, Canada) SPCA to decide it was safe to put the dogs up for adoption.
In Key West, Jason Atkin’s dog was adopted immediately. It has been reported to The Blue Paper that he is very loving and affectionate. He is now living on another boat with a local fisherman who calls him “man’s best friend.”
(Note: In the original version of this article the precise setting for the linked Huffington Post story (Saskatoon, Canada) was not specified.
Several readers reportedly called the Florida Keys SPCA upset that a pitbull that had eaten human remains had been adopted out while others were upset that it had been done immediately when it had taken up to two months to decide in a previous case.
For clarification: Neither the FKSPCA nor any other local agency was involved in the adoption of the Key West dog in this story.