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Crime & Courts

Kotzebue man charged with felony animal cruelty in death of fire station dog

A Kotzebue man has been arrested and charged with the killing of the fire department’s dog this month.

Kotzebue's fire department dog, Ash, was found dead July 16, 2019. (Photo provided by Kotzebue Police Department)

Jack Frankson Jr., 27, faces multiple felony and misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty toward Ash, the department’s 3-year-old husky mix.

Frankson has been charged with felony cruelty to animals for allegedly inflicting severe or prolonged pain on an animal, and a misdemeanor for allegedly engaging in sexual conduct with an animal.

Frankson, who was arrested on Monday, had his first felony appearance Tuesday at the Kotzebue courthouse.

It’s a case that’s shaken Kotzebue, whose residents rallied behind the fire department. As the Sounder previously reported, the department considered Ash a companion and a mascot. She was often kept on a lead outside but would come into the firehall to spend time with firefighters.

One of the firefighters found Ash dead in the department training tower just after 7 a.m. July 16. The firefighter noted Ash had several broken bones, according to court documents. When Kotzebue police officers responded, they found a bottle of vodka inside the tower.

Over the next several days, officials released an image from a video camera of someone seen near the fire department around the time the crime occurred. Community members donated to a GoFundMe account called “Justice for Ash” to raise money for a reward for information leading to an arrest. On July 25, a community member came forward with information about Frankson’s alleged involvement.

Two days later, officers made contact with Frankson. According to court documents, Frankson told them he had been drinking vodka in the tower the day Ash died and he was “angry and suicidal.” Officers said he told them he went outside, got the dog and brought her back to the tower. There, he said, he strangled Ash with a rope and beat her.

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