Did dog bring home human bone? Rock Hill owner thinks so

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comJuly 24, 2013 

— William Fennell’s 3-year-old Labrador retriever, Chica, delivers “things” to her owners all the time.

Shoes, sticks and golf balls have been counted among her bounty.

On Saturday, she found a new treasure – a bone.

A leg bone.

And, if you ask Fennell, it’s very possible that it once belonged to a human being.

“I’ve seen a many animal bone,” said Fennell, 72. “It’s unlike any animal bone I’ve seen.”

Deputies on Saturday met with Fennell at his Olympus Road home on the edge of Lake Wylie. He told deputies that his dog brought home a bone, according to a York County Sheriff’s report.

Nothing unusual there, right?

Except this bone “appeared to be a human leg bone,” the report states.

Fennell typically lets Chica, one of three dogs he and his wife own, roam outside twice a day. Often, Chica will spend her free time underneath the house. Other times, she traipses near a patch of woods that separates Fennell’s home and Dutchman Creek Middle School.

But she never goes too far – no more than 300 yards on the property that Fennell’s lived on for 13 years, he said.

Last weekend, Chica found the bone somewhere and delivered it to her owners. Fennell, a longtime hunter, and a friend did a quick search on the Internet and determined that the bone appeared to be a human tibia, a lower leg bone just below the knee.

Measured against his own leg, the 6-foot-tall Fennell estimates that, if the bone once belonged to a human being, he or she might have stood 5 feet 3 inches tall.

Fennell called police and handed the bone to them.

He said deputies told him they would notify him if any determination had been made. By Wednesday afternoon, there was no word.

If officers thought the bone was human, Fennell guessed deputies would be examining his property in a hunt for other remains.

Among canines, Labrador retrievers are hailed as popular family dogs with keen noses often used to hunt birds, said Dr. Sylvia Chappell, owner of York’s White Rose Veterinary Clinic.

Dogs are able to differentiate odors, almost like sniffing out the different “ingredients” in a soup, Chappell said.

Some breeds, such as bloodhounds or beagles, are used in police or military work and trained to sniff out specific things, like drugs, bombs or food, she said.

Because labs don’t have wrinkles on their foreheads like bloodhounds, they’re unable to retain certain types of smells in their noses, Chappell said.

Nevertheless, Chica is trained to hunt and retrieve, her owners said.

On Wednesday, her latest find was being examined by sheriff’s investigators who were trying to determine if the bone is human or animal, said sheriff’s office spokesman Trent Faris.

He could not offer more detail.

Residents frequently report uncovered bones they consider eerie, said York County Coroner Sabrina Gast.

In her time as coroner, none of those bones have been human, she said. Instead, they’ve belonged to dead cows, deer or dogs.

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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