This article has been updated with additional details from the Juneau Police Department and Gastineau Humane Society.
After falling behind in his work, Juneau’s lone pet cremator stored the deceased animals in a soft-sided carport in front of his home, according to multiple law enforcement agencies. As a result, bears were attracted to the area to eat the dead animals, authorities said.
Mike Dziuba, who owns Bridge Pet Services, said in a brief interview Wednesday that he had fallen behind on his work.
“My apologies to the community,” Dziuba said. “I am currently at capacity for providing cremation services. I can offer assistance with shipping if owners are interested and need advice. It will be a few weeks until I can re-accept pets, but it might be longer than that.”
Dziuba was cited for a bear attraction nuisance, Juneau Police Department Public Safety Manager Erann Kalwara said. JPD and the Gastineau Humane Society sent out a news release Wednesday night saying a caller reported that they had found four dead dogs in the street at about 12:26 a.m. Tuesday. According to the release, Animal Control issued Dziuba multiple citations for improper disposal of dead animals.
When an Animal Control officer arrived on the scene, they found the remains of several dead dogs in heavy plastic bags in the street, the release states. The bags had been ripped open and the dogs’ remains appeared to have been partially eaten by bears, according to the release.
Alaska Department of Fish & Game Regional Supervisor Ryan Scott said his office got a report early Tuesday from Alaska Wildlife Troopers that there was a bear attractant in the Cohen Drive area near Tee Harbor. The attractant, the troopers reported to Scott’s office, was likely domestic animal carcasses.
Scott said he and others from ADF&G arrived at around 9 a.m. Tuesday to find the items were indeed “parts of domestic pets,” he said. Scott said he spoke with one neighbor and with Dziuba, and talked about how to properly store the carcasses to keep them away from bears.
“Everything’s been cleaned up at this point,” Scott said. “We’ve confirmed that. We will be monitoring the area as far as bear activity and bear numbers and bear behavior and things like that.”
Dziuba said he’s moved the carcasses to a bear-resistant location.
At Dziuba’s address on Cohen Drive on Wednesday afternoon, the carport stood at the top of his driveway. The carport was empty, but the smell of decomposition still lingered in the air. A neighbor came by and said she was going to get cleaning supplies to help clean the carport, as she didn’t want bears coming back to the scene.
This isn’t the first time Dziuba has fallen behind in providing cremations. This March, pet owners in Juneau began to notice it was taking a long time for their animals’ remains to come back to them and eventually found that Dziuba was storing the animals in the back of his car.
Dziuba told the Empire at the time that he was working with clients to get back on schedule. In the interview Wednesday, Dziuba said he hasn’t been able to catch up on his backlog of pets. He said someone reached out to help him out, so he has been working with that person to share the work.
Still, he said it will be a while before he gets caught up and people can look for updates on Bridge Pet Service’s Facebook page. He made a post at around 4 p.m. Wednesday, saying he was not going to be accepting pets for a few weeks at least.
“After I complete the cremations for what I have,” he wrote in the post, “a decision will have to be made on how this business will have to change going forward.”
The City and Borough of Juneau has an ordinance, numbered 08.45.020, titled “Dead animals,” that says people need to “immediately” dispose of any dead animal. In a recent interview, City Manager Rorie Watt said there isn’t an exact definition of “immediately,” but that the disposal should obviously happen sooner rather than later.
Animals, according to the ordinance, must be buried, disposed at the landfill or cremated. If a person finds an animal on their property and the animal has a tag or other form of identification, the ordinance reads, the property owner can take time to contact the owner or animal control. Animal control, which can be reached at 789-6997, will then try to locate the owner.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.