Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ohio: Animal lovers rally at Tameka Smith's court appearances. She's accused of abandoning her dog to starve and freeze to death when she moved out of her house

OHIO -- Carrying signs with slogans like “Justice for Charlie,” more than a dozen people stood outside Campbell City Hall Friday morning, protesting the death of a dog outside a home on Reed Avenue last week.

“We would like to see that dogs deserve better, not being chained outside, being brought in from the elements,” said Arlia Slaina, volunteer with Friends of Charlie. “We think that more than a dog house is needed.”


Activists nick-named the animal “Charlie.”

Police said the owner of the home had moved away but left the dog chained outside where it eventually starved and froze to death.

As the protesters were outside, the dog’s owner, 23-year-old Tameka Smith, appeared before Judge Pat Cunning.

“She’s charged with animal cruelty under our city code,” said attorney Brian Macala. “That’s a misdemeanor of the second degree.”


Animal cruelty is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine. While Smith pleaded not guilty and was freed on a $1,500 bond, the protesters argue there should be tougher laws on the books.

“There needs to be change. And from what I understand, Campbell is working on tethering ordinances. A couple other municipalities are working on tethering,” said Jason Cooke, volunteer with Friends of Charlie.

Campbell Police Department Lt. John Rusnak said the dog’s death has upset Campbell police officers and said there is no excuse for this type of animal cruelty.

“With free shelters, dog wardens and humane officers all around the valley, how can someone move out of their home and leave a dog behind outside,” Rusnak said.

Campbell Mayor William Vansuch said lawmakers are in the process of creating laws to prosecute those who leave dogs outside on too-short chains.

WKBN 27 First News obtained a copy of the draft legislation, which would make it illegal to tether or chain companion animals causing them injury or pain, or keep them from reaching shelter, food or water, or creating an “unsafe or unhealthy situation.”

Law Director Brian Macala said having an ordinance in broad language allows a little discretion to prosecutors when taking on these types of cases.


While City Council will still have to approve the language, the protesters suggest similar laws could be coning for other municipalities.

"We are not going away. We are not going to tolerate this anymore," Cooke said.


(WKBN - January 23, 2015)