Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pennsylvania: 'Sticky,' cat found covered in duct tape in Philadelphia, finds new adoptive home

PENNSYLVANIA -- There's a happy ending for the cat found covered in duct tape and left in a yard in a residential section of Philadelphia,.

The cat, nicknamed "Sticky" by her interim caregivers at the Philadelphia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has been adopted and is now safely at home with her new family.

Sticky was discovered Sept. 22 by the North Philadelphia woman in whose yard she'd been dumped, and reports of the extreme incident of cruelty spread quickly among fuming animal lovers.

PSPCA staff reported that it took an hour to cut all the duct tape from the cat's body. (Sticky had to be sedated in order to complete the process.)

PSPCA spokesman George Bengal told Philadelphia's ABC6 Action News that he'd never before encountered a case of animal cruelty like Sticky's, adding that "whoever did this took a lot of time. It was very methodical... [It is] a very sick individual that would do something like this to a cat."


In the days that followed, a number of people called the PSPCA claiming ownership of Sticky, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.  None of the claims appears to have been legitimate, however, since each caller was given the opportunity to come to the shelter to offer proof that they were the cat's legal owner.  None of them showed.

With no owner forthcoming, the PSPCA offered Sticky for adoption -- and received more than 100 requests to adopt her. The group considered the requests on a first-come-first-served basis (Sticky's eventual adopters, who chose to remain anonymous, put in a request shortly after word of the cat's abuse broke), and the cat went home with her new family Tuesday.

Over the weekend, a 19-year-old Philadelphia man, James Davis, was arrested on suspicion of committing the crime.  According to Bengal, Davis has admitted to covering the cat in duct tape after finding her in his backyard on Sept. 21.

If convicted of animal cruelty charges, he could face up to two years in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000, the Associated Press reports.

Davis "did not have any previous convictions or complaints related to animal cruelty," Liz Williamson of the PSPCA told the Inquirer.

Beyond Sticky's new home and the arrest of her alleged abuser, there's more good news. The PSPCA says that the number of cats adopted from its shelter during the period Sticky was there nearly quadrupled the total number of cat adoptions from the same period last year, an increase staffers attribute to all the publicity.

Plus, the organization received more than $2,000 in donations from members of the public who cited Sticky as their reason for donating.

(LA Times blog - Sept 30, 2009)


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pennsylvania: Cops say teen James Davis, 19, tortured cat by duct taping it like a mummy

PENNSYLVANIA -- James Davis, 19, admitted to taping up the cat from neck to tail after he spotted it in his yard Sept 21, police said.

He was arrested on Saturday on animal cruelty charges, said a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

A woman spotted the gray tabby lying in the grass, covered in tape, and brought the animal to the human society.


The animal, nicknamed Sticky by animal welfare workers, was dehydrated and had to be sedated while the tape was cut off its fur.

But the cat is doing well, animal welfare workers said, adding that they are still looking for Sticky's owner.


Video of the cat after the removal of the tape shows a seemingly happy animal, purring and apparently unafraid of its human handlers.

"This is a very very very sweet cat," George Bengal, of the PSPCA, told Fox News. "I can't imagine someone doing this to this cat. I mean, this is a domestic cat. Obviously, it was owned, it can be handled very easily."

Davis faces up to two years in prison and a minimum $1,000 fine if convicted.

(Telegraph UK - Sept 28, 2009)

Wyoming: BLM employee Jason Hein accused of shooting and killing three horses inside their corral

WYOMING -- Authorities have arrested a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employee in connection with the June shooting deaths of three horses at the agency's holding corrals.

BLM spokeswoman Lorraine Keith said Tuesday that Jason Hein was arrested in Billings on Friday. He was charged with seven felony and misdemeanor counts.

"It's good news that the process is working ... and hopefully we'll have closure soon," Keith said.

She said authorities aren't aware of a motive for the shootings.

Hein is still an employee of the BLM, but Keith said he has been on "administrative leave" from his job at the agency's Rock Springs Field Office. He has been employed by the BLM for several years.

Sweetwater County Sheriff Rich Haskell said that a joint county and federal investigation led to Hein's arrest on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals, unlawful killing of wild horses, and property destruction and defacement.

The Sweetwater County attorney's office filed charges against Hein in Circuit Court in Rock Springs. Haskell said Hein is free on a $50,000 bond set in Justice Court in Billings.

BLM personnel arriving for work June 12 discovered that three wild horses had been shot and killed by an unknown person sometime during the night of June 11 with a .22 caliber weapon.

Two of the horses killed were privately owned, and a third horse was a wild mustang that was being held at the corrals.

The wild horse had been gathered as part of BLM roundup operations and was being held at the Rock Springs horse corrals while up for adoption. The agency's corrals and wild horse operations were not closed as a result of the incident.

The June shootings marked the second time in nearly a decade that wild horses have been shot and killed in Sweetwater County.

In February 2001, more than 30 wild horses were shot and killed on federal rangelands northeast of Rock Springs in the Red Desert. That case remains unsolved.

Full Name: Jason Edward Hein
Gender: Male
City: Billings, Montana
Height: 6'00"
Weight: 180 lbs
Arrest Age: 39
Arrest Date: 10/26/2009
Arrest Location: Sweetwater County, Wyoming

(Casper Star-Tribune - Sept 29, 2009)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Disgusting NJ police officer molests calves; gets away with it

NEW JERSEY -- Perhaps the Garden State should switch its nickname to the Barnyard State.

A New Jersey judge has dismissed animal cruelty charges against a cop accused of committing a sex act with young cows, saying a grand jury had no way of knowing whether the animals were "tormented."

Moorestown police officer Robert Melia, who is currently suspended, allegedly engaged in oral sex acts with five calves in Southampton in 2006.

Since New Jersey currently has no law explicitly banning such an act, prosecutors in Burlington county brought animal cruelty charges against Melia, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

Judge Morely said it was questionable that Melia's acts, though "disgusting," constituted animal cruelty.

"I'm not saying it's OK," Morely said.  "This is a legal question for me. It's not a questions of morals. It's not a question of hygiene. It's not a question of how people should conduct themselves."

The dismissal reportedly irked the prosecution.

"I think any reasonable juror could infer that a man's penis in the mouth of a calf is torment," a Burlington County assistant prosecutor, Kevin Morgan, said. "It's a crime against nature."

The judge's dismissal does not mark the end of Melia's legal woes.

He, along with girlfriend Heather Lewis, was arrested in April 2008 for sexually assaulting three girls over a five-year-period.

Authorities investigating those charges reportedly uncovered videos on his computer of a girl being "subjected to sexual activity" in addition to taped encounters between Melia and the calves.

(NY Daily News - Sept 25, 2009)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Florida: Tampa Teacher Charged With Cruelty in Starving Gerbil Cannibal Case

FLORIDA -- She says it was a misunderstanding. 

Tampa teacher Margaret Barthel claims that when she left for summer vacation, she left instructions with another employee to feed and water the pet gerbils in her classroom. 

But the employ apparently forgot, or Barthel is lying to cover her own forgetfulness. Who knows?

Either way, the gerbils were left for weeks over the summer without food water. They became so starved they went cannibal on each other. 

According to a police report filed by Officer Stephen Hiles, several Freedom High teachers said Barthel had a history of neglecting animals, including several finches that allegedly died in their cages, a ball python that died after being deprived of heat and frogs dissected alive by her students.

The conditions in the gerbil cages were deplorable, according to investigators, who were told of overcrowded cages, inadequate food and unchecked breeding practices.

"The gerbils were breeding so rapidly that they were eating their young and being born deformed," police Officer Stephen Hiles wrote in his report. "We were not able to determine the exact number of animals because they had cannibalized each other."

Now Barthel, head of the science department at Freedom High, has been charged with five counts of animal cruelty.


In Barthel's classroom at Freedom High, several class “pets” were abused and neglected: Nine gerbils died after they were deprived of food and water for more than two weeks, finches died of exposure, and a ball python froze to death.

As a result of the cruelty citations, Barthel has relinquished her (still-living) ball python to Hillsborough County Animal Services, paid a $1,000 fine, donated $500 to animal services, and committed to keeping animals out of her classroom permanently.

(True Crime Report - Sept 23, 2009)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Woman says pit bulls jumped fence before killing other dogs

NORTH CAROLINA -- A Wake Forest woman says two pit bulls, thought to have mauled and killed two other dogs, likely jumped the fence outside her home while she was away.

Susie Henley said Tuesday that she was watching the animals for their owners while they moved to the area. She left to go pick up some items on Friday to move.

That's when the dogs got away, Henley said, adding that she searched for them and put out fliers. She had no idea that they might have attacked Joyce Valentine's dogs.

Valentine said that she returned home from work on Friday to find her two Jack Russell terriers dead in the back yard.

Neighbors told her they had seen two dogs identified as pit bulls in the area. A neighbor later captured the dogs and took them to animal control.

Mike Williams, director of Wake County's Animal Control and Adoption Center, said Tuesday that the dogs' owners have since surrendered one of them to the shelter and has until Sunday to decide about the other dog.

He said the dogs likely won't be available for adoption.

"There is no direct proof, at this time, that these dogs had anything to do with the deaths," Williams said. "There is plenty of circumstantial evidence, which is why we will not be able to offer the one dog that has been surrendered for adoption."

Williams also said the owners also made clear that the dogs are American bulldogs.

"Pit bull" is a description applied to a number of specific breeds of dogs including the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier, among others.

American bulldogs also meet that generic category, Williams said.

It's unlikely that the dogs' owners will face criminal charges, Williams said. They could, however, be fined by the county or subject to civil litigation.

Williams said the case serves as a reminder that pets should always be properly confined for the animal's safety, as well as the safety of humans and other animals.

(WRAL - September 22, 2009)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Florida: Maxwell Joe Bruner Accused of Feeding Cat to Dogs, Assaulting Witness

FLORIDA -- Our story begins in April of last year, when a janitor at Bruner Middle School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida found a mauled cat in the school’s rear.

When police checked surveillance video, they saw a man and woman arrive in an SUV with two dogs and a cat. The man teases the dogs with the cat in his hand, then throws it for the dogs to maul. 

The matter remained a mystery for more than a year. But Maxwell Joe Bruner’s wife just couldn’t keep her mouth shut.

While at work on day, she mentioned that “Skip and Dink are wanted dogs,” according to the Northwest Daily News. A coworker didn’t know what she was talking about, so she showed him the surveillance footage on the Daily News website, saying her husband was the man on the video. Then a former employee of Bruner’s came forward, confessing that she was the woman with Bruner in the video, and that she’d witnessed Bruner 'sic' his dogs on cats and rabbits several times…

But Bruner didn’t like being ratted out. The former owner of Big Kahuna’s restaurant — he’s as unoriginal as he is cruel — became angry after apparently finding out that the man his wife told ratted him out. So he pushed him and hit him on the head, face and neck.

Now Bruner isn’t just charged with animal cruelty; he’s charged with battery as well. He’s also accused of besmirching the good name of his father.

Bruner Middle School, where he was caught on camera, is named after his father.

(True Crime Report - Sept 21, 2009)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Georgia: Michelle Turner Lynn, 28, and her husband accused of living among rotting pets

GEORGIA -- A woman accused of neglecting more than a dozen dogs to the point that they died and decayed in her Murrayville rental home was arrested Thursday and charged with cruelty to animals.

Michelle Turner Lynn, 28, made her first appearance Thursday before a Hall County Magistrate Court judge via teleconference from the Hall County Jail.

Warrants for her arrest had been outstanding since Sept. 11. She surrendered to authorities at the jail early Thursday morning.


Judge Elizabeth Reisman set bond for Lynn at $1,000 for each of the 23 counts of cruelty to animals.

Lynn’s husband, 35-year-old Robert Lee Lynn, was arrested Saturday on the same misdemeanor charges and posted the same amount of bond Monday.

Arrest warrants allege that on Sept. 5, the couple caused "the death and unjustifiable pain and suffering to 14 dogs and two cats by willful neglect and failure to provide food and medical attention" at their Elm Circle home, which they later vacated.

The couple also is accused of causing pain and suffering to six puppies and one dog that were not provided food and water between Sept. 5 and Sept. 8.

Authorities said they found a filthy home in disarray when they were called late last week to the
address by the property owner.

Dog carcasses were discovered throughout the house in various stages of decomposition. Some were wrapped in plastic, in Tupperware bowls, under blankets and burned in a fire pit, according to Hall County Solictor-General Stephanie Woodard.

Officials believe the couple lived in the house among the carcasses with young children.

Five surviving mixed-breed dogs were seized by Hall County Animal Control and brought to the Humane Society of Hall County.

The Humane Society’s president, Rick Aiken, said one of the dogs later had to be euthanized.

"They were not doing good when they were brought in," Aiken said.

The surviving dogs are suffering from ringworm and the intestinal parasite coccidia and are cannot be adopted immediately because of the diseases, which can be contagious to humans, Aiken said.

Michelle Lynn waived her right to a preliminary hearing Thursday. She has an Oct. 8 arraignment scheduled in Hall County State Court.

In Georgia, causing an animal to die by neglect is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Aggravated animal cruelty, in which a person "maliciously causes death or physical harm to an animal by rendering a part of the body useless or by seriously disfiguring an animal," is a felony.

(Gainesville Times - September 17, 2009)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Mexico: Steven Lawrence Maldonado Beats Fiance, Then Beats Dog to Death

NEW MEXICO -- Any dog owner might expect a four-month-old puppy to occasionally pee on the floor. Since they don’t speak our language, they tend to be a little slow with the potty training. But when Steven Lawrence Maldonado’s new German shepherd peed on the floor, he took it as an act of aggression.

Police were called to his Las Cruces, New Mexico apartment after residents said a woman was screaming. They say Maldonado had been hit and dragged his fiance across the floor. After beating on his wife-to-be, he hit and kicked the dog, then threw it against a wall.

The dog’s injuries were too severe to save it, and Maldonado has been charged with battery and animal cruelty.

Little tip for the bride-to-be: This is probably not the man you want to spend the rest of your life with.

(True Crime Report - Sept 14, 2009)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Michigan: Psychiatric exam scheduled for Kenneth Lang Jr., 56, living with more than 100 live dogs among another 150 dead ones

MICHIGAN -- A man found to have more than 100 live dogs and 150 dead ones in his Detroit-area home will undergo a psychiatric exam to determine if he is competent to stand trial on animal cruelty charges.

Dearborn District Judge William Hultgren on Friday ordered an exam for 56-year-old Kenneth Lang Jr., who will return to court Dec. 4.

Authorities discovered in July that Lang was hoarding the dogs, mostly Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes.

They say some of the dead dogs found in freezers in the home may have been killed with an injection to the heart or partially eaten by other dogs.


Lang's attorney has said his client needs treatment for an obsessive-compulsive disorder and shouldn't be punished.

Lang is charged with two counts of cruelty to 10 or more animals.

(LA Times blog - Sept 12, 2009)


Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Jersey: Neighbors Demand Action After Cliff Zager's Wolf-Hybrid Dogs Escape Again

NEW JERSEY -- Holland Township, NJ police captured and returned the last of five wolf ybrids to their Spring Garden Road home Sunday morning, nearly three days after they escaped.

Despite rumors, the hybrid canines did not chase humans, police said, but their second escape in three years is expected to generate discussion at Tuesday’s township committee meeting, according to officials.

An ordinance relating to the situation may be introduced, multiple officials said, though it is not yet clear what new law may be proposed.

An exotic animal ban under consideration in Bangor would also forbid wolf-dogs as pets. In addition to lions, bears, alligators and dozens of other potentially dangerous animals, the Bangor ordinance would forbid any canine that is not a “commonly domesticated dog.”

The wolf-dogs’ owner, Cliff Zager, today said he understands his neighbors’ concerns and wants to find ways to be a better neighbor.

“People grew up with ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ and the word wolf can be scary,” he said.

Zager, a four-year Holland Township resident, said he will consider installing a second fence in addition to the one already there, or even moving, if he can afford either one.

He said he will not consider giving up any of the 14 wolf-dogs he has raised since they were puppies.

Some of the dogs escaped about a year and a half ago, when a storm brought a tree down on the fence, police said. Thursday’s incident started when workers clearing brush on an adjacent property accidentally tore the bottom of the fence, allowing the dogs to squeeze through, police said.

Police employed the use of traps to catch the dogs. Police Chief David W. Van Gilson described the dogs as “skittish” and shy of humans.

(DogFiles - Sept 4, 2009)

Friday, September 4, 2009

North Carolina: Puppy mill operator Ranna Scott, charged with animal cruelty after 237 dogs seized

NORTH CAROLINA -- Authorities charged a Lucama woman with 13 felony counts of animal cruelty Thursday after finding hundreds of dogs last week at her residence living in what they described as deplorable conditions.

Ranna Michelle Scott, 38, bred dogs and ran a puppy mill at her 5559 Lloyd Road home, said Major John Farmer, with the Wilson County Sheriff's office.

Scott surrendered at the sheriff's Office Thursday morning. She signed papers agreeing to surrender all 237 dogs that had been at her residence.

She was released after posting a $20,000 secured bond. Her husband is also expected to be charged.

After an investigation began in late August, Scott drove around the state giving away or dumping about 180 dogs at shelters in an attempt to hide them, according to Major Mickey Wilson, head of the sheriff’s office's animal enforcement division. Many of these dogs were in poor shape.

Crews set up a staging area staffed by veterinarians at the Wilson County Fairgrounds to treat the dogs as they came in by the dozens. Some were in good health, while others needed immediate medical attention, Wilson said. At least five died.

Dr. Steven walker says many of the animals had ant bites, excessive fleas, ticks, and a various number of other medical problems. He says they were living in terrible conditions.

Anyone who knows where more animals are or has any information about Scott's breeding operations should call the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office Animal Enforcement Division at 252-265-5971.


The SPCA of Wake County and Saving Grace in Wake Forest have taken in some of the dogs. For information about adoption, call the SPCA at 919-772-2326 or Saving Grace at 919-518-1180.

Two of the rescued dogs

In April, Wilson county commissioners adopted new regulations aimed at shutting down puppy mills with poor conditions. The rules require kennels to be inspected and be recommended by veterinarians annually and pay registration fees of $45 to $100 each year.

In their latest session, the state House and Senate also considered two bills to regulate commercial breeders, but both bills stalled in House committees.

(WRAL - September 3, 2009)

Police Blotter: Goat mauled in its pen by pit bull

GEORGIA -- On August 30 an animal incident report was filed at a Lower Apalachee Road location after a woman reported that four dogs were in a pen attacking her goat.

According to reports, a deputy responded and observed a Pit Bull type dog and two [juveniles] in the pen.

The deputy applied pepper spray to the Pit Bull so the complainant could secure the goat.

While the deputy was attempting to secure a flashlight his shotgun discharged into the air, reports states. The dogs were captured and had no collars.

(Morgan County Sheriff’s Office - Sept 3, 2009)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Texas: Juston Lee Bruno Accused of Feeding Elderly Neighbor’s Poodle to His Pit Bulls

TEXAS -- A Beaumont man took a neighbor's toy poodle and gave it to his two pit bull dogs, which
then attacked and killed it, police said.

Juston Lee Bruno, 30, was charged with cruelty to nonlivestock animals, a state jail felony, Officer
Crystal Holmes with the Beaumont Police Department said Wednesday. Bruno was released from
the Jefferson County Jail on $25,000 bond.

The incident on Sunday was the second violent animal cruelty case in a week, police said.

In the first incident, three abandoned dogs were found with chemical burns. All three have been
euthanized, Holmes said.

In the Sunday attack, a witness told police that a man took the black toy poodle out of a box and tossed it to two pit bulls. The man watched as the pit bulls attacked, she added.

When officers arrived, they saw one of the pit bulls chewing on the mangled and dead poodle, Holmes said.

Ida Scott was given Bullett six years ago as a gift from her daughter-in-law.

“I loved my little baby,” said the 74-year-old Beaumont woman from her home, where Bullet's toys were scattered about the house.

She said friends and family had grown to love the 8-pound, 8-ounce, curly haired dog who met visitors at the door and was known as “Uncle Bullett” or “Brother.”

Her husband was particularly fond of the dog, she said. Andrew J. Scott requires regular dialysis treatments and is in and out of the hospital, she said.

“Bullett was just about what keeps him alive,” Scott's sister, Virginia Hardin, said. “He sleeps at the foot of my brother-in-law's bed. When he was in the hospital, he would talk to (Bullett) over the phone.

“No matter what he goes through, when Bullett's here, he manages to smile,” Hardin said.

The pit bulls were seized by animal control, Holmes said. A hearing is planned for later this week to decide whether the dogs should be destroyed.

(Chronicle - Sept 2, 2009)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

California: Jack Ziniuk, Charged with Decapitating His Horse, Saves California Money By Dying Before Trial

CALIFORNIA -- Jack Mark Ziniuk had a lot to learn about hiding evidence. Police say the Anza, California man decided to beat his horse to death with a sledgehammer in April, then decapitate it with a chainsaw and feed the head to his 40 dogs.

He then called police to report the dogs had attacked said horse. But deputies quickly deduced that the evidence didn’t indicate a canine attack, since dogs are generally incapable of operating chainsaws.

Ziniuk pleaded not guilty to felony animal cruelty charges.

At the time of his arrest, he owed thousands of dollars in fines for violations at this unlicensed kennel.

Fortunately, he died over the weekend, saving the broke state of California the expense of trying his sorry ass.

(True Crime Report - Sept 1, 2009)