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Savannah man, Michael Johnson, convicted of starving two dogs

State v. Michael Johnson, a case we prosecuted for the Ashland County Dog Shelter/Dog Warden.

Johnson was charged with animal cruelty related to the starvation of his two Golden Retriever dogs, Laney and Sadie.

The Ashland County Dog Warden visited Johnson’s property when it was reported that a dog had been abandoned there. Sadly, Sadie had already passed away. There was a bag containing dog food in the kitchen, just feet away from where both dogs were confined.

Johnson entered a plea to two counts of animal neglect, both second degree misdemeanors, and was found guilty.

Laney recovered and Johnson surrendered ownership to the Dog Warden today.

Sentencing is set for May 4, 2015.

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Cleveland woman sentenced for neglect of two dogs

State v. Glenda Murray, a case we prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Glenda Murray was charged related to her neglect of two emaciated, ill dogs tethered without shelter in cold weather. Glenda Murray’s husband, Fuller Murray, who was also charged, is currently serving jail time on felony firearms and assault charges and his animal cruelty case is still awaiting adjudication.

Glenda Murray was found guilty of four counts and was sentenced to the maximum jail term (1 ½ years), all suspended. The suspended time may be imposed if she fails to complete 5 years’ probation. During probation, she is prohibited from owning or keeping any animal. She must also submit to random inspections. Murray must complete 100 hours of community service and pay $230 in restitution to the APL.

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Wauseon, Ohio man guilty of neglecting pony

State v. Andrew Fox, a case we prosecuted for the Toledo Area Humane Society in the Sylvania Municipal Court.

Andrew Fox was found guilty of one count of animal cruelty for neglecting the care of one horse and one pony. The animals were kept in filthy conditions. The issue of greatest concern was the fact that the pony had very long, overgrown hooves which made it difficult for the animal to walk normally, and caused unnecessary suffering.

Defendant voluntarily surrendered both animals to the Humane Society. Sentencing is scheduled for May 14, 2015.

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Police officer found guilty of animal neglect for leaving police dog in car

State v. Brett Harrison, a case we prosecuted today which was investigated by the Medina County SPCA.

Sgt. Harrison of the Montville Township Police Department in Medina County, Ohio was charged with two counts of companion animal neglect for leaving his trained police dog in his cruiser for 4 hours and 19 minutes, causing the animal to die of heat exhaustion. The high temperature that day was 79 degrees. A veterinarian reported that temperatures inside the vehicle could easily reach 125 degrees or higher, causing significant suffering and ultimately death.

Sgt. Harrison testified that he intended to keep the car running with the air conditioner on. He failed to do so, and failed to notice that the cruiser was not running despite standing nearby talking to other officers for 23 minutes after exiting the vehicle. The windows of the car were left closed. Sgt. Harrison testified that he did not check the temperature during the day, and did not check on his dog during the entire period.

Judge Chase found the Defendant guilty of one of the two counts of companion animal neglect, a second degree misdemeanor. The Judge noted that Sgt. Harrison has no prior criminal history, and no record of disciplinary action while serving as a law enforcement officer, and ordered that he pay a $500 fine.

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Conviction for possession of cockfighting birds and equipment

State v. Filimon Medina, a case we prosecuted for the Medina County SPCA. This is one of the roosters removed from Mr. Medina’s property. It is common practice among cockfighters to remove the combs and wattles of fighting birds so the animals will not bleed excessively in battle, thus weakening them and possibly interfering with their ability to see.

While Mr. Medina was not caught in the act of cockfighting, he was charged and convicted in the Medina Municipal Court of two counts of possession of criminal tools for possessing altered roosters, sparring muffs, various drugs and veterinary supplies commonly used in cockfighting, keep pens, tie out ropes and shipping boxes.

Ironically, possession of criminal tools is a 1st degree misdemeanor, while cockfighting is only a misdemeanor of the 4th degree in Ohio. Mr. Medina forfeited all seized birds, will pay a $400 fine plus costs, and may serve 90 days in jail if he violates the terms of his probation, which includes a prohibition against possessing altered birds and random inspections.

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Cleveland couple sentenced to jail for keeping dogs in filth

State v. Melody and Edward McDonald; cases we prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League. Both will serve jail time.

The Defendants, husband and wife, were each found guilty of keeping three dogs in filthy conditions. The floors of the residence were caked with animal fecal matter and debris. The house smelled extremely foul. After receiving notice that a complaint had been filed with the APL, Mr. McDonald abandoned several dogs on Independence Road that were never recovered. He claimed that he left the dogs in a “safe place” because the Animal Warden would find them.

The Defendants were sentenced today by Judge Adrine. The McDonalds were given 180 days in jail, with 170 days suspended. They will both serve 10 days, and the remaining suspended time may be imposed if they fail to complete 5 years’ probation. During probation, they are prohibited from owning or keeping any animal. They must also submit to random inspections.

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Right to Register Service Dogs in Ohio Pursuant to the ADA

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that gives the overall structure and intent for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Pursuant to the ADA, if you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may only ask the person who has the animal if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. Documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal cannot be required.

While the ADA does not override other federal laws, it will override state or local laws that provide less protection or benefit. However, if a state or local law provides more protection or greater benefit, it will override the ADA.

Ohio requires that all dogs be licensed, including service dogs.

Ohio Revised Code section 955.011(A) states that “[w]hen an application is made for registration of an assistance dog and the owner can show proof by certificate or other means that the dog is an assistance dog… certificates and tags stamped ‘Ohio Assistance Dog-Permanent Registration,’ with registration number, shall be issued…” and further, in (B)(3) that “’Assistance dog’ means a guide dog, hearing dog, or service dog that has been trained by a nonprofit special agency.”

This language in the Revised Code conflicts with protections specifically afforded by the ADA.

First, that an assistance dog may only be trained by a nonprofit special agency. Pursuant to the ADA, there is no requirement that a service animal be trained by a nonprofit agency, just that it be individually trained.

Second, that proof by certificate or other means is required for the issuance of assistance dog tags. Pursuant to the ADA, if you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may only ask the person who has the animal if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. Documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal cannot be required.

While many Ohio counties simply follow the provisions afforded by the ADA when issuing registration tags, some still wrongly require proof that a service dog was trained by a nonprofit agency.


For more information, contact our offices in Fairlawn and Sharon Center at (877) 239-4480. We help clients resolve dog registration disputes throughout Ohio.

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Summit County horse starvation case results in conviction

State v. Sixto Gutierrez, a case we prosecuted for the Pawsibilities Humane Society of Greater Akron in Stow Municipal Court.

Defendant Gutierrez pleaded guilty to animal cruelty for the starvation of 3 horses, including a young colt. All of the horses recovered under the care of Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, Inc.

Gutierrez is not permitted to possess animals of any kind for 5 years and is subject to random inspections to ensure compliance. He must pay a $100 fine and court costs. He faces 90 days in jail and the reinstatement of the remaining $400 in fines if he fails to comply with the terms of probation.

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Rootstown, Ohio woman found guilty of 11 counts of animal neglect

State v. Danette Kerr, a case we prosecuted for the Portage County APL was resolved today.

112 animals were seized from Kerr’s property on July 22, 2014. 18 dogs and 3 cats exhibited signs of neglect including dehydration, emaciation, matted fur, severe dental disease and a variety of untreated conditions that caused suffering.

82 birds were kept in conditions of extreme filth, including accumulation of urine and fecal ammonia which caused rescuer’s eyes to water and throat to burn. Conditions for the animals included emaciation, urine scalded feet and overgrown beaks. 29 dead birds were also found in a freezer on the property.

Horses showed various signs of neglect, including malnourishment, muscle wasting, dehydration, and excessive exposure to filth and flies.

Danette Kerr was found guilty of 6 first degree misdemeanors and 5 second degree misdemeanor charges of animal neglect. Kerr paid $14,100 for costs incurred in caring for the animals. She is on probation for 5 years. During that time, she is subject to random inspections to make sure that she is caring properly for her three current pets. She must also have a mental health assessment and follow up with recommended treatment. 

Our goal in these cases is first to save the animals, and second to prevent future incidents. In cases like this, mental health treatment along with inspections over 5 years (the maximum term of probation) has proven to be more effective for preventing future violations than an immediate jail term. If Kerr does violate any of the terms of probation, she is facing 180 days in jail.

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Seville, Ohio couple to serve jail time for starving dogs

State v. Augusta and Burdett Crandall; cases we prosecuted for the Medina County SPCA.  Both will serve jail time and are prohibited from keeping companion animals indefinitely.

The Defendants, husband and wife, were each found guilty of companion animal cruelty for starving their dogs Thor and Loki (later renamed Abu and Andor).

The Defendants were sentenced today by Judge McIlvaine of the Wadsworth Municipal Court.  Burdett Crandall was given 90 days in jail, with 75 days suspended.  Augusta was given 90 days in jail with 80 days suspended.  That means he will serve 15 days, and she will serve 10.  The remaining suspended time may be imposed if they fail to complete 5 years’ probation.  During probation, they are prohibited from owning, keeping or living in a residence with animals.  They must also submit to random inspections.   There was no fine, but they must pay court costs and $5,304.17 restitution to the Medina County SPCA.  Finally, they are prohibited from owning or keeping companion animals indefinitely.

At sentencing, Augusta Crandall acknowledged that she went to school for veterinary practice for one and a half years before giving it up for financial reasons.

We are pleased that Judge McIlvaine has sent a strong message to the community about the seriousness of animal neglect.

Before photo SKMBT_C35314091615590

After photo Andor 2

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