An animal shelter thought they were golden-retriever puppies. The King County Sheriff's Office thought they were coyotes. But a veterinarian is almost positive they were both wrong.

An animal shelter thought they were golden-retriever puppies. The King County Sheriff’s Office thought they were coyotes. But a veterinarian is almost positive both were wrong.

The carcasses of three beheaded and skinned animals found on the side of a road in Auburn Tuesday night are almost certainly the remains of raccoons, given their anatomy and the content of their stomachs, according to the veterinarian performing the necropsy

The meaty tissue found near the carcasses seems to have been hide and cheek tissue from a slaughtered cow, a King County Sheriff’s Office news release said Thursday.

When the remains were spotted along the Kent-Black Diamond Road across from a bar, the sheriff’s office and Pasado’s Safe Haven, an animal shelter, speculated the mutilated carcasses were canine.

Before the necropsy results came out, Pasado’s spokeswoman Amber Chenoweth announced that the shelter was offering a $5,000 reward for anyone who could solve what Pasado’s called a dog-mutilation case. Pasado’s is no longer offering the reward.

Chenoweth said Pasado’s was “thankful it didn’t turn out to be someone’s beloved pets,” but “we still feel like displaying these animals on the side of the road like that is disgusting and sick.”

She added that the shelter will continue to investigate any reports of possible pet mutilation.

It is legal to hunt raccoons in Washington, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. A hunting license is usually required, although residents without licenses can legally kill a raccoon if it damages crops or domestic animals on their property.

Fish and wildlife spokesman Craig Bartlett said it is illegal, however, to dump an animal’s carcass on the side of a road.

The veterinarian will have a written report on the necropsies next week, the sheriff’s office said.

Jill Kimball: 206-464-2108 or jkimball@seattletimes.com