The Aransas County (TX) Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that two tracking dogs that have in the past been instrumental in locating individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s that wandered away from their homes were strangled by individuals believed to be in this country illegally.

The privately owned dogs were deployed to assist Aransas and Refugio County Deputies, DPS Troopers and a large contingent of Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens who had responded to assist in apprehending a group of 14-16 individuals who fled on foot following a traffic stop.

When the subjects scattered on foot into a heavily brushed area, the K-9 units were brought in to assist in the search—the dogs were strictly search animals and not trained to bite suspects.

"With handlers on horseback and Officers on foot, the law enforcement team soon located and detained 3 individuals after United States Border Patrol verified the immigration status as questionable," the Sheriff's Office said on Facebook. "As the search continued and moved about a very large area, three more individuals were detected in a heavy thicket with two surrendering quickly and a third responded to demands to come out in Spanish telling officers 'if you want me, come and get me'."

Officers then discovered both dogs—eight-year-old Grunt and three-year-old Nell—dead from strangulation. The collars carrying trackers had been twisted tightly about their necks causing their deaths.

"After the sixth individual who it is believed was responsible for the canine deaths, was detained and interviewed by U.S. Border Patrol Officials it was determined they had come from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico," the Sheriff's Office said. "All six individuals, five males and one female were transported to the Aransas County Detention Center where they were picked up by U.S. Customs and Immigration Officials."

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