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Animal neglect

Jailtime for Man Convicted of 9 Counts of Companion Animal Cruelty

State v. David Taylor a case we prosecuted for the Lake Humane Society resulting in a lifetime ban from keeping companion animals.

Taylor was convicted in the Willoughby Municipal Court of 9 counts of companion animal cruelty after trial for neglecting his three dogs, who were kept in a cluttered, dirty yard full of debris, including broken glass and nails. They suffered from severe flea infestation, open abrasions, bacterial infection, severe ear mites, fly strikes and whipworms.

In addition to the ban on keeping animals, Taylor was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 45 of which was suspended pending successful completion of one year probation including mental health assessment and treatment. He was fined $750 of which $500 is suspended.

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Probation and Fines for Neglectful Dog Breeder

State of Ohio v. Christopher Bittner, a case prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Bittner plead no contest to two second degree misdemeanor counts pertaining to his neglect of 10 dogs. Bitter was breeding bulldogs and the operation got out of control, causing the dogs to suffer from an overwhelming odor of excrement and various untreated medical conditions.

Bittner was sentenced to 5 years of probation, during which time he cannot own, keep, or reside with any animal. He will undergo random inspections by the APL. He must pay $2,785.00 in restitution for the care of the dogs, plus court costs. He was also sentenced to pay $1,500.00 in fines, $1,400.00 of which was suspended. If Bittner fails to comply, he faces 180 days in jail and imposition of the additional fine.

Bittner dog

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As Temperatures Drop, a Reminder about Shelter Requirements

With the temperature in the teens for the next few days, we’re sending out a reminder about shelter requirements for companion animals pursuant to state code!

Cleveland enacted new animal neglect ordinances in December 2014, which were then enacted by several other localities. Those ordinances provide bright-line rules about what qualifies as appropriate shelter and higher penalties for violations. For cities that have not enacted stricter sheltering guidelines, state code governs.

Ohio Revised Code § 959.131(D)(3) provides that no person who is the custodian or caretaker of a companion animal shall negligently do the following:

“impound or confine the companion animal without affording it. during the impoundment or confinement, with access to shelter from heat, cold, wind, rain, snow, or excessive direct sunlight if it can reasonably be expected that the companion animal would become sick or suffer in any other way as a result of or due to the lack of adequate shelter.”

There is qualifying language to the shelter requirement — “if it can reasonably be expected that the companion animal would become sick or suffer in any other way as a result of or due to the lack of adequate shelter.”

This is a *proactive* statute that can be used in situations where the companion animal is provided with shelter, but that shelter is inadequate considering the extreme temperatures and due to that lack or inadequacy of shelter, the animal could reasonably be expected to suffer. Evidence of suffering is not a necessary element of this crime. The statute provides humane agents (or other law enforcement) with the proactive ability to seize an animal so that the animal does not have to suffer.

Some considerations for humane agents include the adequacy of the shelter in current winter conditions, any visible signs of suffering (such as “flipper walking” or shivering), the breed of dog or type of animal, and how long the animal has been confined outside.

Since R.C. § 959.131(D)(3) defines cruelty as the negligent confinement of a companion animal to a shelter in a manner in which it can reasonably be expected that the companion animal would become sick or suffer, and R.C. § 959.132 provides the authority for a humane agent to take possession of an animal cruelly treated, those two statutes authorize a humane officer to rescue animals from such conditions.

Moreover, some municipalities have ordinances prohibiting chaining or tethering that apply in these circumstances.

Of course, every shelter situation is different and law enforcement should consult with legal counsel and/or veterinary staff as needed.

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Over $17,000 Restitution Ordered for Care of Neglected Horses

State v. Patricia Floyd, a case we prosecuted which was investigated by Animal Charity of Ohio. Floyd pled guilty to 4 counts of animal cruelty for neglecting 7 horses. Two had extremely long hooves, several were dehydrated or excessively thin, and all were living in filthy conditions. Horses require regular hoof trimming by a qualified farrier. Lack of proper care can lead to this severe and painful deformity.

The horses were all surrendered. Floyd was ordered by the Youngstown Municipal Court to pay $17,400 in restitution to Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary who did an excellent job rehabilitating these animals. Floyd will be subjected to random inspections for 5 years, and may not possess any animals other than two dogs she already possessed, which were in good condition.

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Owner Convicted for Neglecting Dog’s Severe Skin Condition

State v. Christopher Overton, a case we prosecuted in Youngstown investigated by Animal Charity of Ohio, the Humane Society which serves Mahoning County.

Mr. Overton had three dogs. Two were in good condition. The third had an extreme untreated skin condition which caused large sections of skin to be red, raw and bloody. Blood and flesh were found on the collar when it was removed.

Overton surrendered the dog to Animal Charity. Today he plead guilty to companion animal cruelty. Overton will be on probation for three years, and will be subjected to random inspections to make sure that he is providing proper care for his remaining dogs. He is not permitted to have other animals. He will pay $500 for the rehabilitation and care of this dog. If he violates any of these terms, he may be ordered to serve up to 90 days in jail.

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Jail Time and Community Service Sentence for Animal Neglect Case

State of Ohio v. Travis Wargo and Cari Welk, a case prosecuted for Lake Humane Society.

Wargo and Welk both pled guilty to animal neglect. The case involved two cats, Liam and Logan, and a dog, Lily, that were kept in deplorable conditions.The animals suffered from various untreated medical conditions. While the other animals were of good weight, Liam the cat was so painfully emaciated that when offered dog treats by the Humane Agent, he scarfed them so fast he was throwing up while he was eating them.

Both Defendants were sentenced to 5 years of probation, during which time they cannot own or harbor any animals. Lake Humane Society will conduct inspections to ensure compliance. Wargo and Welk will have to pay court costs and $3,030.00 in restitution for care of the animals to Lake Humane. Both Wargo and Welk were sentenced to serve 4 days in jail or complete 4 days of community work service. If they fail to comply with these conditions, Wargo will face an additional 356 days in jail and Welk 86 days.

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24 Animals Found in Filthy Conditions, Owner Sentenced to 5 years Probation

State of Ohio v. Sheri (Shari) Gilbert, a case prosecuted for Lake Humane Society.

Gilbert pled guilty to all 10 counts of animal neglect on the day of trial. 24 animals, including dogs, cats, parrots, a guinea pig, and ferrets, were seized from Gilbert’s home. The animals were kept in deplorable conditions and suffered from a variety of medical conditions. The foul smell of the residence was described as “beyond words.”

Gilbert was sentenced to 5 years of probation, during which time she cannot own, keep, or reside with any animal. She will undergo random inspections by Lake Humane to ensure that she is not harboring any animals. She must undergo a mental health assessment and complete recommended treatment. Gilbert paid $4,500 for the care of the 24 animals and must pay court costs. If she fails to comply with these conditions, she will face 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

Alla

Alla, one of the dogs rescued by Lake Humane, was successfully treated and adopted.

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Owner Pleads Guilty to Starving Dog

State of Ohio v. Robert Dunning, a case prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Dunning was charged with one count of companion animal neglect for the starvation of his dog, Buster. Buster was found outside with filthy water and no food. He was emaciated and severely dehydrated. This case occurred prior to the enactment of new sheltering ordinances in the City of Cleveland.

Dunning plead to the count and was found guilty. He must surrender all of his current animals to the APL and cannot own or keep any animal for a period of 5 years. He will undergo random inspections to ensure compliance. Dunning was also fined $750, the maximum fine for a second degree misdemeanor, and must pay court costs. $500 of the fine and 90 days in jail were suspended and will be imposed if he violates the terms of his probation.

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Maximum Community Service Sentence for Summit County Animal Neglect Case

State of Ohio v. Sandra Kay Benedum, a case prosecuted for Pawsibilities Humane Society of Greater Akron and also handled by the Summit County Dog Warden.

Benedum, 70, pled guilty to two counts of companion animal neglect regarding 1 dog named Tibet. Tibet had multiple open wounds filled with hundreds of maggots when Benedum brought him to the dog warden for euthanasia. 11 days earlier, Benedum called her veterinarian to complain that Tibet’s odor was making her kids sick, but did not bring the dog in for treatment.

Benedum is banned indefinitely from owning, keeping, or possessing any animal. She will undergo 5 years of probation, during which time she must comply with inspections by the humane society or other law enforcement. She must also complete 400 hours of community service, the maximum for second degree misdemeanors, and pay court costs. If she violates those terms, she faces 180 days in jail.

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Jail Sentence for 2014 Neglect and Obstruction Case

State of Ohio v. Donald Lane, a case prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Charges in this case were filed in 2014 related to three dogs with dermatitis from flea infestation that were kept in filthy conditions. Lane refused to control the dogs during the seizure and one ultimately bit the Humane Agent. Lane failed to appear for court until this year.

Lane pled to a charge of allowing a dog to bite filed by Cleveland Animal Care & Control (City Dogs Cleveland). Lane then pled no contest to one charge of animal neglect and one charge of obstruction in this case.

Lane was sentenced to 5 years of active probation. He must pay $279.64 in restitution to the APL. During probation, Lane may not have any companion animals and is subject to random inspections by the APL. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail. 175 days were suspended.

Lane was taken to jail immediately to begin his 5 day sentence.

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