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Cleveland APL

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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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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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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Fine for Animal Cruelty to Lemur

State of Ohio v. Jennifer Toth, a case prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Toth was charged with one count of animal cruelty related to a Lemur named Nova that had an untreated broken leg. The leg was broken at the time Toth purchased the animal.

Toth pled to one count of attempted cruelty to animals. Toth agreed not to keep any more exotic animals is limited to two spayed/neutered dogs, two male guinea pigs, and a turtle for one and half years. There was no evidence that the non-exotic animals were not being cared for properly.

Additional provisions include payment of court costs, a $250 fine, and $1,109.90 in restitution, representing the cost of amputation of the lemur Nova’s leg. Toth is subject to random inspections and must keep all animals in a humane, lawful, and sanitary manner. She faces 45 days in jail if she fails to comply.

Nova recovered and was sent to a lemur sanctuary.

Nova the Lemur

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Sentencing for Animal Boarder/Breeder

State v. Theopholis Hunter, a case we prosecuted that was investigated by the Cleveland Animal Protective League and City Dogs Cleveland (Cleveland Animal Care & Control).

Hunter was found guilty of two counts of animal cruelty for neglecting 19 dogs. Hunter operated a boarding/breeding operation for many years. The dogs were kept in filthy conditions and were suffering from various untreated ailments, such as severe matting, tumors/masses, and ear/eye infections. Hunter was cooperative and surrendered all 19 dogs immediately.

Hunter was ordered to have no animals for five years and remove all signage from his property related to the breeding/boarding/sale of animals. He will be subject to random inspections and faces 270 days in jail if he fails to comply. He was also ordered to pay $760 in restitution to the Cleveland APL.

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Sentencing for Cat Crossing Operators

State of Ohio v. Mary Wawyrtko, Joseph Scott Gray, and Jessica Oslander, cases prosecuted for the Cleveland APL.

Defendants were sentenced yesterday.

They will have to complete 5 years of active probation. During probation, the Defendants are prohibited from owning more than 2 spayed or neutered animals. They may continue to volunteer as cat caretakers at The Cat Crossing if they act under the oversight of a veterinarian and shelter management plan, both approved by the APL. All animals must be kept in a humane, sanitary and lawful manner. The Defendants will be subject to random, unannounced inspections of any facility where they care for cats by the Cleveland APL, Cleveland Animal Control, Public Health and Building Code officials, and other law enforcement to ensure compliance.

Defendants must obtain mental health assessments and abide by recommended treatment, if any.

Defendants must also pay $5,800.00 in restitution to the Cleveland APL and court costs. If the Defendants fail to comply with the terms of probation, they face up to 990 days in jail each.

Cat

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Cat Crossing Operators Pled Guilty to Filthy Conditions, Neglect

State of Ohio v. Mary Wawyrtko, Joseph Scott Gray, and Jessica Oslander, cases prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Wawyrtko, Gray, and Oslander were the primary operators of The Cat Crossing rescue and sanctuary. They were charged with multiple counts related to 147 neglected cats kept in filthy conditions at the sanctuary.

Wawrytko has operated cat rescues for a number of years. In 2011, Wawrytko’s Columbus Avenue sanctuary was shut down and Tails From The City – Cleveland took in 106 cats from that facility. In 2012, Wawrytko opened a new sanctuary on W25th Street called “The Cat Crossing”, which became the subject of multiple complaints. Over the years, the Cleveland APL issued advice and warnings based on lack of appropriate quarantine procedures, adequate veterinary records, and waste odor permeating the building due to lack of cleanliness and soiled carpet.

In January 2015, a new complaint led to yet another investigation. This time, the conditions had deteriorated to the point that 147 of the cats were taken from the facility. All of the cats in the facility were either free-roaming or contained in wire crates that allowed contact with other cats. No quarantine room was established and cats infected with FeLV, FIV, ringworm, upper respiratory infections (URI), Giardia, ear mites, fleas, and other contagious diseases/parasites were allowed to freely mingle with other cats. Multiple free-roaming cats were seen sneezing blood and mucus, and the walls themselves showed visible evidence of mucus splatter. The vast majority of the cats were not being treated for these conditions, either by a veterinarian or the Defendants.

The odor of animal waste throughout the facility was overwhelming. Most of the litterboxes overflowed with waste and cats were forced to eliminate around those boxes. Space heaters were positioned throughout the cold building on flammable, unsteady objects, such as mattresses, where one witness described seeing cats congregating around the heaters and urinating in proximity.

Overcrowding, poor air quality, constant exposure to disease, and competition for resources caused these cats to suffer not only physically, but psychology from stress, leading to the deterioration of their immune systems and ultimately making them more susceptible to disease.

Wawrytko, Gray, and Oslander each pled guilty to six counts, five related to filthy conditions and one related to neglect, covering the treatment of all 147 cats. Sentencing is scheduled for November 16, 2015 at 11:00am.

catcrossingcat

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Multiple-Count Conviction for Shih Tzu neglect

State v. Jon Carmen Ferrante, a case prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Ferrante was charged with animal neglect related to his care of 33 Shih Tzu dogs. Many of the dogs were so severely matted that it became difficult for the dogs to walk or move without pain. The dogs were confined in unsanitary conditions and also suffered from untreated veterinary conditions such as worms, dental disease, and eye issues.

One dog, Xander, suffered a mat that acted as a tourniquet around his foot, resulting in death of the limb and a severe infection. Despite receiving emergency medical attention at the Cleveland APL, he ultimately did not survive his condition. All 32 other dogs were successfully rehabilitated by the APL and adopted into new homes.

Ferrante pled no contest to 12 counts of neglect, all first degree misdemeanors pursuant to Nitro’s Law.

Ferrante is prohibited from owning, keeping, or possessing any companion animals for an indefinite period of time and was further sentenced to 5 years probation, during which time he is not permitted to possess any animals and is subject to random inspections by the APL. He must obtain a mental health assessment, and abide by any treatment recommendations. He was fined $600 plus court costs. Failure to abide by these terms may result in 180 days in jail.

Shih Tzu matted

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Conviction for Animal Neglect after Choking Puppy

State v. James Wayne, a case we prosecuted on behalf of the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Wayne was charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor of knowingly committing an act of companion animal cruelty for choking a puppy to death on February 10, 2015. Wayne has a record of at least 16 prior felonies.

The case was set for trial twice. Unfortunately, the only eye-witness failed to appear in court, and her current address is unknown. The Defendant instead pled guilty to animal neglect for failing to provide necessary veterinary care for an animal, which is also a 1st degree misdemeanor under Cleveland City Ordinances.

Wayne is now prohibited from owning or possessing companion animals indefinitely. He must complete an anger management course, submit to monitoring by the APL for 5 years, and pay a $250 fine plus court costs. Failure to abide by these terms may result in 180 days in jail.

dogbedgarage

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Sisters to complete 1000 hours of community service for starving their dog to death

State of Ohio v. Christina Davis and Delores Davis, a case prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Delores and Christina Davis, sisters, were charged with one second degree misdemeanor count related to the starvation death of their dog. The dog was found deceased and emaciated in their yard. The sisters stated they relied on neighbors to provide them with free dog food. The dog’s bowls contained only filth and leaves.

Each defendant pleaded no contest to the charge. They must each complete 500 hours of community service and 5 years of active probation, during which time they cannot own animals and are subject to the APL’s monitoring. 90 days in jail were imposed, and suspended. They will pay court costs.

empty dog bowls starved dog yard

 

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