Reports of an abused dog along U.S. 54 near the Audrain and Callaway county line were falsified, according to Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller.

Carl Nowlin Jr., of Mexico, has been arrested for filing a false affidavit and making a false report, Oller said. Charges will also be sought in Miller County for animal theft. Nowlin falsely reported finding a dog bound by tape at the feet and muzzle walking along U.S. 54. The dog, who has since been identified as “Hershey” was returned to his rightful owners Aug. 16.

“I have mixed feelings,” Oller said. “I’m glad it ended well, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why someone would do this.”

Hershey, who ran away from a farm in Eldon, had been living at a gas station for several days. People shopping at the gas station had brought him water and food, Oller said.

Upon reviewing the security camera footage from the day, investigators found Nowlin loading the dog into his van and leaving the area. Hours later, he reported finding the dog bound on the side of the highway and transported him to the Audrain Animal Shelter. The dog was never actually bound or on the side of a highway, according to Oller.

Nowlin has no known connections to the dog’s owner, Oller said, and his motives are largely unknown. During an interview, Nowlin admitted to retrieving the dog from a gas station in the Eldon area and transporting him to Audrain County. Nowlin also admitted that the information he reported about the dog being bound was false.

“At this point, we don’t have any idea why (the suspect) did what he did,” Oller said.

The Audrain County Sheriff’s Department circulated images of the dog on their Facebook page, attempting to connect him with his real owner. The owners were able to contact the Audrain Animal Shelter with identifying details of the dog, like surgery scars, to prove their rightful ownership before collecting Hershey from the shelter.