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Now that we know a Rottweiler puppy named Iris lost her leg to abuse, the question becomes why? A vet amputated the pup’s leg as it had become paralyzed and necrotic. It was paralyzed and necrotic because someone wound a rubber band around it. Someone wound a rubber band around it for reasons unknown.

Scott Giacoppo of Humane Law Enforcement says he’s seen cases like this before. Something elastic (a rubber band or a hair scrunchee) is secured to an animal’s leg and ends up cutting off circulation. The perpetrators are usually kids who don’t know better. They’re just playing. But Giacoppo says that, in this case, investigators have ruled out fiddling kids. Iris wasn’t exposed to any.

Giacoppo says that maybe an adult did it out of ignorance, but he doubts it. “If you put a rubber band around your finger, you can feel how much it hurts,” he says.

That leaves another more disturbing possibility: The person who put the rubber band on Iris knew what would happen. Giacoppo says owners not wanting to spend money on veterinary fees sometimes use rubber bands to “dock” animals—getting rid of, say, a long tail or floppy ears (often for cosmetic reasons) by choking away the appendage with a band.  After a while, the appendage dies, and falls away. According to Giacoppo, some particularly parsimonious animal owners have even used this method to neuter their pets.

Jim Monsma of the Washington Animal Rescue League, the organization that cared for Iris says she’s doing great. She’s even been adopted, and is already home with her new owner.

Monsma doesn’t think the man who owned Iris and two other puppies—they had collars embedded in their skin—was trying to hurt the dogs, as he has a business selling canines. He goes with the ignorance theory. “I don’t think it was a docking because two of their collars had grown tight and no one docks a head.”

In any case, Giacoppo makes clear the Humane Society is doing some digging. “We need to figure out what happened,” he says.

Photo courtesy of the Washington Animal Rescue League.