WATERVILLE — The owner of two pit bulls that are under a euthanization order says the dogs got away from her and ran off while she was walking them, shortly after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld a ruling to have the animals put down.

Danielle Jones went to the Humane Society Waterville Area shelter around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and was allowed to take her pit bulls, Bentley and Kole, for a walk, police said. The dogs had been declared dangerous for attacking a woman and killing her dog and were being held at the shelter while Jones appealed the euthanization order.

Jones returned to the shelter around 1 p.m. and told the staff that her pit bulls had gotten loose and run off into the woods, with their collars and leashes still attached.

Winslow Police Chief Shawn O’Leary said that seems “suspicious, to say the least.”

He also was disappointed that the shelter let Jones take the dogs out.

“I’m completely dumbfounded why the director would allow them to take the dogs off the property,” O’Leary said. “We feel that this is a serious issue, that two dangerous dogs are now out and about and … you know, this is putting a lot of resources into dealing with this situation. … I’m very disappointed in the management.”

Shelter Director Lisa Smith did not respond to phone and text messages seeking comment and was not at the shelter Wednesday afternoon.

DOGS’ OWNER NOT COMMENTING

The shelter was involved in another high-profile case involving a dangerous dog that was resolved over the summer. The shelter said it was unaware that a husky it allowed to be adopted was under a euthanization order at the time.

Police had trouble contacting Jones after being told her dogs were on the loose Tuesday, but they found her at her home around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Jones handed a detective a slip of paper that said “direct all questions to my attorney” and refused to speak further, said Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey.

Jones couldn’t be reached by the Morning Sentinel at her business, The Muddy Paw Grooming Spa on Bay Street in Winslow, where a sign said the business was closed Wednesday.

The Morning Sentinel also tried to reach Jones at her home on Lucille Avenue, but no one answered the door Wednesday afternoon. A number of dogs were heard barking in the house, and a woman wearing a black shirt that said “pit bull” later walked through the door and ignored a request for comment.

Police said they don’t know if Jones owns dogs besides Bentley and Kole.

The pit bulls had been declared dangerous and were ordered euthanized for attacking Sharron Carey and her dog, Fergie Rose, on Aug. 30, 2016, near Jones’ home in Winslow. The dogs killed the 10-month-old Boston terrier and seriously injured Carey.

A judge in Augusta found that Jones had committed two civil violations of keeping a dangerous dog and ordered both dogs euthanized within 30 days. The order was stayed pending an appeal by Jones, and the dogs were being held at the Waterville animal shelter at 100 Webb Road.

On Tuesday, the state’s highest court upheld the euthanasia order. In its decision, the Supreme Judicial Court said that “competent evidence in the record” supported the finding that the dogs had injured a person seriously.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Tuesday that the case was “about community safety. It’s about feeling safe to walk the sidewalks of our neighborhoods.”

Winslow police received news that the euthanization order was upheld about 12:40 p.m. Tuesday, O’Leary said, and contacted the shelter multiple times afterward about paperwork. O’Leary said police weren’t told of the dogs’ disappearance until 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.

“That makes me very concerned and upset,” O’Leary said Wednesday.

Sharron Carey’s husband, Bill Carey, said by phone Wednesday that they can’t comment on the incident as they pursue a lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court against Jones and the dogs’ co-owner, Brandon Ross, and against Danielle Doyon of Waterville, owner of the home on Lucille Street.

INVESTIGATION IN EARLY STAGE

Carey’s attorney, Steve Blackwell of Lanham, Blackwell and Baber in Bangor, said the current issue is for law enforcement to handle, but that Sharron Carey is the victim and doesn’t want the dogs to harm anyone else.

“It’s very sad and no one wins here,” Blackwell said, adding that there may be some changes “in the way things are handled” at the shelter.

Maloney, the district attorney, said Wednesday that she’s interested in what the investigation finds, but she declined to comment on whether the latest incident could result in criminal charges. Asked about issues concerning the shelter and the timeline of the dogs’ disappearances, she said, “Those are the questions that I want to have answered.”

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour