Man accused of drowning 12-year-old dog arrested in Reno

William Meek, 47, was arrested in Reno on a felony warrant for allegedly drowning a dog in the American River.
William Meek, 47, was arrested in Reno on a felony warrant for allegedly drowning a dog in the American River. Reno Police Department

A man who has been on the run from Sacramento since June for allegedly tying a dog to a bowling ball and drowning it in the American River was arrested Tuesday in Reno.

William Meek, 47, was being held in the Washoe County jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. No court date had been set Wednesday. Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Hilary Bagley-Franzoia said the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department has requested Meek’s extradition to California, but she did not know when that might occur.

Sacramento detectives described Meek as a very violent man with two warrants for his arrest – for the alleged malicious maiming of animals in Sacramento and possession of a controlled substance in Yolo County, according to Reno police. Meek has a history of methamphetamine use and resisting arrest, according to a search of California court records.

Reno Police Department Crime Suppression Team Sgt. Eric Stroshine said a team of officers from his department and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department tracked Meek to a Reno Best Value Inn on an anonymous tip, and arrested Meek about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. He was taken into custody without incident, Stroshine said.

The dog, a 12-year-old border collie named Zelda, was found floating in the American River on June 16 near Sacramento’s River Park neighborhood. Gina Knepp, the city animal care manager, said the dog had a microchip, which allowed the city animal shelter to trace her to a Sacramento woman. The woman, who Knepp said was Meek’s girlfriend, told officers she put Zelda in Meek’s care and asked that he take her to the shelter to be surrendered for allegedly biting someone. But Knepp said neither man nor dog ever came to the city shelter.

When Zelda was retrieved from the water, she had a leash attached to her collar, Knepp said. The other end of the leash was tied to a bowling bag containing a bowling ball and a large rock.

“There’s something terribly wrong with someone who would do that,” Knepp said Wednesday. “I can’t wait until he comes back to Sacramento. Let’s see what a jury does with him.”

A necropsy confirmed Zelda was alive when she entered the river, but later drowned and suffered trauma to her neck, presumably from the animal’s struggles to free herself from the weight pulling her underwater.

Officers had hoped to arrest Meek in Yolo County, where he was scheduled for a Sept. 25 court appearance on the drug charge, but Meek never showed.

Knepp said she was relieved to hear he had been apprehended after weeks of wondering when – or if – the person who killed Zelda would be brought to justice.

Zelda was “an old dog,” Knepp said, who belonged to the same person her entire life.

“She certainly shouldn’t have died the way she did,” Knepp said. “A lot of people dismiss these crimes as being unimportant. Hats off to the police for following up.”

Call The Bee’s Marissa Lang, (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter @Marissa_Jae.