WEST AMWELL — When police received reports of a dog dying after being dragged more than 5 miles while chained to a truck, they ruled the death accidental and no charges were filed.

Two months later, however, the agency that enforces animal cruelty laws in the state has opened its own investigation following the resignation of a municipal animal control officer.

According to NJ.com, the incident occurred on April 4 on Route 179, where the dog was dragged across the border into East Amwell.

Police did not file charges against the driver of the truck after determining that it was an accident.

But Carolyn Murphy, who was hired by West Amwell and Lambertville in January, did her own investigation into the matter and says charges may be warranted.

"I pursued the case and I did the investigation," Murphy said Tuesday in an interview with New Jersey 101.5. "I found some inconsistencies that were worth pursuing and that's kind of where it ended from there."

According to NJ.com, West Amwell Mayor John Dale said the man claimed the dog was normally attached to a trailer, which had been moved because of muddy conditions after several days of rain. The man told authorities that he had planned to drive the family car, but opted for the truck because the car was out of gas and he needed to take his daughter to dance lessons.

"It's up to us to present all of the findings to a prosecutor and a court and see if there's enough to warrant a case," Murphy said. "That's why I feel it's pretty obvious there were things that weren't done that should have been done. If you hit an animal in the state of New Jersey, whether it's accidental or not, you have to report it to the police, and that wasn't done."

According to the West Amwell Police Department, the investigation is now being handled by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Matt Stanton, a spokesman for the organization, confirmed an active investigation into the matter, but could not release further details.

Murphy resigned in late May citing numerous instances where she said the governing bodies did not follow her recommendations or state laws and statutes on how to handle various issues.

After Murphy's resignation, the towns agreed to have St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center, which Murphy said presents its own set of challenges.

"They're a great organization but they're not local," she said. "When I would get a call, I was there in 10 to 20 minutes if it's an emergency."

One thing St. Hubert's has that neither town does is impound facilities. Based in Madison the organization has other locations in North Branch, Ledgewood and Mount Olive.

Without an impound location, Murphy said it was up to her to find locations to bring the animals she was working with.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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