Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Louisiana: Despite begging for leniency, man receives 5 years in prison for stealing calf, beating it to death

LOUISIANA -- Moments after telling a St. Tammany Parish courtroom that time in prison "would ruin my life completely," 22-year-old David J. LeBlanc Jr. listened Monday as a judge sentenced him to five years in prison for stealing a newborn calf and beating it to death with a shovel last winter.

LeBlanc, one of several men arrested in the case, landed the harshest sentence because he alone caused the defenseless animal "a painful death," state Judge Martin Coady explained.

David J. LeBlanc Jr.

On Dec. 19, 2009, LeBlanc's night of drinking at a Saints party at an apartment complex on Louisiana 1078 near Folsom was spoiled by the team's loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
He; Dwayne J. Jenkins, 36; and Carnie B. Smith, 29, vented their frustration by stealing a 3-day-old calf from nearby Red Bluff Farm, where school children often visit on field trips to learn about farming.


They dragged the animal back to the apartment complex's parking lot. There, as Jenkins and Smith watched, LeBlanc pummeled the calf with a shovel until it died.

The farm called the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office out the next morning to investigate the calf's disappearance. Deputies found evidence that the calf had been dragged under the farm's fence, and footprints led them to the apartment complex.

Jenkins, Smith, LeBlanc and a fourth man, Christopher R. Murphy, 27, of Franklinton, were all eventually arrested. St. Tammany Parish Assistant District Attorney Harold Bartholomew secured guilty pleas from all of them.

Jenkins and Smith in October each received two years of probation and were ordered to pay back their share of the price of the calf. Murphy received two years' probation, too -- though he did not participate in killing or stealing the animal, he did remove the calf's carcass, drive it into the wilderness and dump it, authorities said.

As the time neared Monday for LeBlanc to learn his fate, he told Judge Coady that he deserved the same sentence if not a lighter one than his fellow defendants got.

Christopher Murphy

"I was the only one who came forth and told the truth" during interviews with investigators, LeBlanc said. "The others lied the whole time."

LeBlanc then begged the judge to have sympathy for his relatives and his unborn child.

"I have a kid on the way," he said. "I could not do (time in prison). My family could not."

Coady replied that, though the pre-sentencing investigation he ordered confirmed that LeBlanc cooperated with deputies, it was not enough to save him out from being imprisoned.

Carnie B. Smith

Aside from the five-year sentence, Coady ordered LeBlanc to pay restitution to the calf's owner; to undergo psychiatric evaluation; and to keep away from all animals. The judge also recommended that LeBlanc apply for a boot camp program through which he could shave off part of his sentence, but acceptance into the program is not automatic, said Rick Wood, a District Attorney's spokesman.

LeBlanc, who wore a black hooded sweatshirt and denim jeans, was handcuffed by a deputy at the conclusion of the hearing. He slumped into a nearby bench, slowly shook his head and buried his face into his hands.

Two women and one man who accompanied him stood up to leave the room with dazed expressions on their faces.

"Oh my God," one woman said, her voice quivering. "Wow," said the other.

(The Times-Picayune - Nov 29, 2010)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Florida: The greyhounds Ronnie Williams failed to kill get lots of love, care

FLORIDA -- Shaula is a bit of a loud mouth.

From a distance, the small black female running around her sand turnout pen, barking and antagonizing her fellow greyhounds, looks nothing like the emaciated, weak dog taken from a kennel clinging to life less than a month ago.

Closer inspection, however, shows this nearly 3-year-old dog has a lot to be thankful for. Shaula might be back to a healthy weight, but several sores caused by an extended time confined in a kennel lined with her own feces are still healing, and she has a scar from the duct tape that was wrapped around her neck so tightly she could barely breathe.


Shaula is one of five dogs the Washington County Sheriff's Office and inspectors with the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering found alive in trainer Ronnie Williams' kennel Oct. 29. Thirty-two of her kennel mates were dead. The veteran trainer is in Washington County Jail facing 37 counts of felony cruelty to animals.

On entering the kennel, Washington County investigators reported the smell of rotting flesh was so overpowering they had to go back for gas masks.

Two dogs were found in fair health, but thin. Two more, Shaula and Blazin' Grady, were critically underweight and had duct tape around their necks, restricting their breathing, officials said.

The fifth, known on the track as Flying Cabernet, was barely alive, said Mark Hess, assistant manager of Ebro Greyhound Park's adoption center.

"The night of this disaster I was in a panic like the kennel was on fire. I knew there was one more dog in there and I prayed to God; I prayed to St. Francis; I prayed to Mary, that this dog would live," said Tammy Hess, who started the adoption center and is married to track president and manager Stockton Hess.

When Chipley veterinarian George Kim arrived, the struggling greyhound was his first priority. An IV was inserted to begin rehydration, Flying Cabernet was wrapped in a blanket and Tammy Hess drove him to the vet's office, where he stayed for two weeks of supervised recovery. During his stay he gained 15 pounds and overcame a kidney infection, she said.

She adopted and brought him home when he was released from the vet's care. He has gained an additional 12 pounds in her care and on Tuesday weighed 64 pounds. Stacie Strickland, who operates the adoption center and trains greyhounds and races at Ebro, said a dog of his size should weigh about 76 pounds.

The other 12 animals, including eight that were dropped off at the adoption center before the kennel was raided, are still at Ebro's adoption center and are being held as evidence, Strickland said.

Greyhounds typically are fed a combination of meat and dry dog food once a day. Females typically eat 2 to 2.5 pounds each day and males consume 2.75 to 3 pounds per day. Like a starved human, the dogs had to build up their intake gradually so they did not make themselves sick, Strickland said.

The dogs were infested with tapeworms, as well as hook and round worms. The dogs with open sores also were put on antibiotics, Strickland said.

Williams' dogs also were carrying some kind of bacteria when they came in to the adoption center that spread through the kennel and gave all the dogs diarrhea for several days.

Now, however, all of the animals are well enough to be adopted out whenever investigators release them, and Strickland said she was confident they would find good homes.

"These dogs have got everyone in the world wanting them," she said.

Despite all they have been through, the dogs are affectionate and playful to each other and humans.


From Rags to Riches - Shaula

Sex: Female
Color: Black
Age: 3 years
Cats: TBD

Just over a year ago, three year old Shaula was found in an Ebro Florida racing kennel, managed by trainer Ron Williams, clinging to life, emaciated and with duct tape wrapped around her neck so tightly she could barely breathe. 32 of her kennel mates were already dead of starvation and dehydration. Shaula, affectionately known as "Squirt", was one of five survivors.

Today, after a year of rehabilitation and being held in Florida as state's evidence in the trial where Williams was found guilty of 39 counts of felony animal cruelty, "Squirt" made it to GRR!!! She was greeted by volunteers waiting to give her all the loving she deserves. She will be in foster care for a short period of time, but this personable lady, with a lust for life, will soon go to her forever home.

She is truly home for the holidays.

(Tampa Bay Times - November 27, 2010)


Friday, November 26, 2010

Bulldogs attack 10-year-old girl in Massachusetts

MASSACHUSETTS -- A 10-year-old girl is recovering at home in the western Massachusetts town of Granby after two bulldogs attacked her in the neighbor’s yard.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that the girl was bitten several times on Saturday. She was treated at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and released. Authorities withheld her identity .

The owner of the American bulldogs plans to euthanize them after a required 10-day period.

In Maine, Karen Stewart, 41, of Prentiss Township was mauled on Nov. 12 by an American bulldog mix in LaGrange. She was removed earlier this week from a drug-induced coma at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and has undergone surgeries to clean out infected tissue. She may lose one of her arms because of the damage to it.

Stewart had been visiting her friend Vaughn Adams of LaGrange when she was severely mauled by an unleashed American bulldog mix owned by Adam Bemis, 28, one of Adams’ neighbors. Stewart was bitten more than 20 times on her head, face, arms and legs.

The dog was euthanized shortly after to be tested for rabies. Bemis has been charged with keeping a dangerous dog and may face additional charges, police have said.

As with the dog in Maine, Granby Dog Officer Gordon Landry says there had been no previous reports of problems with the dogs.

The American bulldog is a stocky, strong-looking animal with powerful jaws. The canine is sometimes known not to tolerate not-so-familiar friends approaching its territory when the owner is not around.

(Bangor Daily News - Nov 25, 2010)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Florida: Larry Kruger will be on probation for 6 years and must get mental health counseling to deal with his need to hoard animals, causing suffering and death

FLORIDA -- Larry Kruger said he loved his cats — all 161 of them. In fact, a veterinarian said Kruger spent $28,000 on their health care in one year, reports the Pensacola News Journal.

Kruger ran what he called a "cat shelter." When owners of two other cat shelters gave up their shelters, Kruger took in the cats, according to the News Journal.

But his love for his cats grew into an unhealthy obsession: The cats were sick with diseases and parasites. The home was full of feces. Neighbors complained about the stench, reports the News-Journal.

Kruger, 62, was arrested March 22 on eight felony charges of causing pain and suffering to animals and 161 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty. Eight dead cats were found in a freezer, waiting to be cremated, according to the News Journal.

Authorities gave him a warning: Clean up the mess.

But Kruger was overwhelmed by his situation and failed to do so. So authorities arrested him last month.

On Monday a judge sentenced Kruger to 30 days in jail, to be served at times of Kruger's choosing within the next two years. He also was placed on probation for six years, during which time he is forbidden to have any pets. He also was ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

(Sun Sentinel - Nov 24, 2010)


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Court orders dog that killed therapy dog to be euthanized

MAINE -- A Lewiston judge ordered a Livermore Falls man Tuesday to have his dog euthanized by Nov. 24, for attacking and killing a therapy dog in July on lower Park Street.

Martin Vining
Jack, a Jack Russell terrier, was being walked on a leash by its owner's children when the Bull Mastiff - Mastiff - Rottweiler mix named Hooch attacked him near the larger dog's residence at 46 Park St.

Martin Vining, 41, pleaded guilty in 8th District Court to civil violations of having a dog-at-large, having an unlicensed dog and being owner/keeper of a dangerous dog, Animal Control Officer Wayne Atwood said Friday.

Vining was ordered to pay $450 in restitution, a $100 fine for the unlicensed dog violation and a $250 fine for the dangerous dog violation, Livermore Falls police administrative assistant Amanda Leclerc said.

The judge ordered that the dog be euthanized by Wednesday, Nov. 24, and ordered a copy of the euthanization papers to be sent to the Androscoggin County District Attorney's Office by Tuesday, Nov. 30, Atwood said.

Vining was not available for comment Friday.

“On Nov. 16 justice was carried out for the death of our beloved Jack,” owner Bethany Miller of Livermore Falls said Friday. “It is my hope that our town will be a safer place to be because of Jack's story. We would like to thank the Livermore Falls police, Mr. Atwood and the District Attorney's Office for the respectful way they handled our case. I feel bad for Mr. Vining and Hooch but the public's safety had to come first.”

Jack was Miller's therapy dog. She said previously that she and her family were devastated when Jack, 4, was killed. She had planned at the time to get counseling for her children, ages 14 to 19, who had to watch the attack. Attempts made to separate the dogs were unsuccessful and the smaller dog died during the [attack].

Miller's biggest concern then was that she didn't want to see anybody else get hurt by the larger dog.
Hooch had also attacked a mailman in 2007. Vining was charged then with owning a dangerous dog.

Miller’s children and Jack were returning from a walk at the Livermore Falls Recreation Field and were about a half-mile from home when Hooch came around a corner near Vining's home.

Her son, Kyle Wilson, 19, said previously that Hooch gave his younger brother, Jordan Gill, 14, a look and Jack took a step toward the larger dog, and Hooch attacked it.

Vining said previously that he was outside burying another of his dogs that had been hit by a vehicle and had to be put down. Hooch was not on a leash at the time but was initially with Vining and a friend in the yard.

"Nothing was done on purpose," Vining said at the time. He didn't know why Hooch went after the smaller dog, he said, but he knew Hooch, who was 9 [years old] at the time, didn't get along with Jack.

(Sun Journal - Nov 20, 2010)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Florida: Polly Boykin charged with animal cruelty after shooting and killing her neighbor's cat

FLORIDA -- A Florida woman who killed her neighbor's cat says she opened fire to protect her pit bull, her sister and herself.

Polly Boykin of Lakeland faces charges of animal cruelty and firing a gun in public, The Lakeland Ledger reports. Judy Steele was ticketed for not having proof her cat had been vaccinated and allowing the animal to roam loose.

Police said that Skeeter, Steele's cat, strayed into Boykin's yard Tuesday morning. The pit bull, named Zeva, went after the cat and the two animals ended up in another yard under a house trailer.

When Brenda Barley, Boykin's sister, tried to get the cat out, the animal went after both of them. Boykin, who now has an infected hand, said she decided to get her .32-caliber handgun because she wanted to protect others.

"I was worried about the cat coming out and hurting someone else," she said.

Steele blames Boykin.

"What happened with that lady was uncalled for," she said. "She wasn't even in her yard when she shot the cat. That cat was just trying to get away from the dog."

(UPI - Nov 20, 2010)

Two separate dog attacks reported to Saline police

MICHIGAN -- Saline police say they're investigating two recent serious dog attacks in which one dog attacked another while owners were walking them in the city.

The most recent incident was reported last Thursday after a woman reported her dog was attacked and bitten by a stranger's dog in Mill Pond Park.

The woman said she was walking her basset hound in the park at 565 Bennett St. at about 6:30 p.m. when it approached another dog walking with a younger couple, according to reports. The other dog, which resembled a [Doberman Pinscher], attacked the woman’s dog as soon as the owners let her off her leash. It took several minutes to separate the animals, and the attacking dog’s owners left the park quickly.

The basset hound’s owner told police the dog was injured, but she felt the wounds weren't serious enough to require medical attention. She told officers she didn't wish to press charges, but wanted the owners warned not to unleash their pets in the park.

She didn't get the people’s names, but was able to describe the license plate of the vehicle they were in for officers. A notice was mailed to the vehicle’s owner regarding the city’s animal ordinance, and the case remains open pending contact with those individuals, reports said.

Officers are still trying to identify the owners of a dog that attacked a Saline woman’s dog as they were walking along the sidewalk in the 900 block of Colony Drive on Sept. 29, reports said.

The woman said she was taking her daily walk at about 4:45 p.m. when she saw a young girl, roughly 12 years old, walking toward them holding two dogs on leashes. The woman said she yielded the sidewalk to the larger dogs, which were able to pull the girl toward her and her golden retriever.

One of the dogs bit the woman’s dog, causing a wound that would later required sutures. They separated the dogs, and the girl left after giving the woman her cell phone number. The breed of the attacking dog wasn't known, but it was described as weighing roughly 75 pounds.

[Later news stories say it was a pit bull]

The woman said her dog was expected to recover, but she wanted the other dog’s owner to reimburse her for more than $400 in veterinarian bills, reports said.

The woman told police she called the girl’s cell phone and spoke with a woman who identified herself as the girl's mother. Upon explaining the situation, the woman said the girl’s mother abruptly hung up on her and has not returned multiple voicemail messages left since then.

Authorities were able to determine the girl’s cell phone service provider and faxed a subpoena to the company requesting the owner’s contact information, reports said. They are still awaiting results of the subpoena request.

Anyone with information is asked to call the department at 734-429-7911.

(AnnArbor.com - Oct 19, 2010)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Minnesota: James Shuper, 74, and Carol Shuper, 72, to be charged with animal cruelty

MINNESOTA -- A complaint has been filed, and a summons has been issued by St. Louis County Court for the couple found in possession of 30 dogs and one cat at their urban Hibbing home in June.

James A. Shuper, 74, and Carol E. Shuper, 72, are each expected to be charged with 25 counts of animal mistreatment and 30 counts of animal neglect, stemming from the discovery and removal of the animals from their home at 1525 16th Ave. E. on June 8.rec

The mistreatment charge alleges that the Shupers deprived the animals of necessary food, water and shelter, whereas the neglect charge maintains that they failed to provide proper sanitation for the animals in their control.

All of the counts are misdemeanors and carry a maximum sentence of 90 days jail.

Following up on an anonymous tip, Hibbing Animal Control Officer Alyssa Garcia recruited the help of the Hibbing Police Department. She and an officer then visited the residence, which the anonymous caller estimated had 20 dogs inside.

City ordinance states that urban residents may not have more than four dogs or cats at a time.

On scene, Garcia and the officer noticed many bags of dog food in old vehicles located on the lot and noted a strong odor of urine and feces around the outside of the home, according to the complaint.

On a second knocking at the front door, James Shuper answered and told the officer he had four dogs of his own in the home.

When asked if there were any more dogs in the residence, Shuper hesitated but stated “maybe 20.”

According to the complaint, Shuper stated that he had so many “because other people had given him the dogs,” adding that “he believed they would die if they were not cared for.” He did not provide the names of any individuals who gave him the dogs.

Upon entering the house, the officer and Garcia noted the odor was stronger and started to gag for fresh air. They went outside the residence and called for another officer as well as Hibbing Animal Shelter employees to respond with pet crates.

When they re-entered the home, the officer observed 20 dogs in the living room area. They were described as undernourished with their ribs protruding, weeping eyes due to infections and having overgrown nails, according to the complaint.

Blood was also spotted on the wood floors in several area of the house because many of the dogs had bloody feet.

Carol Shuper was home at the time and yelled at the officer and Garcia to “leave (her) dogs alone.”

While removing the animals, an officer was bit in the hand and transported by ambulance to the University Medical Center-Mesabi for treatment. Two animal shelter workers were also bit.

Urine stains on the walls and balls of fur were found throughout the house. In the basement, there was about 1 to 2 inches of feces.

Several dogs were found scared and hiding under the stairs in the basement. Officers needed flashlights and choke collars to get them out. These dogs were described by Garcia as “extremely wild and untamed,” states the complaint.

At the shelter, veterinarian K. Michele Dougan determined that 25 of the 30 dogs seized were emaciated. She further found that all of the dogs had eye irritation and eye drainage due to the ammonia fumes from the accumulation of urine and feces in the home.

All but four of the dogs were described by Dougan as “absolutely filthy,” and several of the dogs were covered in fecal matter. She also determined that the dogs didn’t have enough food, didn’t receive proper hygiene and that their area of confinement was too small and lacked ventilation, according to the complaint.

“This is something that you see on ‘Animals Cops’ or something like that. It’s not something you expect to have here,” Garcia said. “I know it’s out there. It’s just hard to believe until you live it.”

The dogs were nursed back to health by shelter staff and went up for adoption about one month after the date of the rescue. The dogs, which were all Papillion and Chihuahua crosses, had been given shots and were spayed/neutered.

Only five of the rescued dogs are still waiting to be adopted.

(Fergus Falls Journal - November 18, 2010)

Ida Grove woman dead after attacked by own dog

IOWA -- An Ida Grove, Iowa woman is dead after being bitten multiple times by her own dog. Her body was discovered in her home on Monday.

However, officials believe Lou Bird, 79, was attacked by her dog a few days earlier on November 8.

Bird lived at 502 Moorehead Street with only her German Shepherd guard dog.

The Ida County Sheriff believes Bird was in the kitchen with the dog, when she was bit several times. She sustained severe wounds on her hands and the back of her legs.

According to investigators she then went to the bathroom, closed the door, and tried to clean herself up, and got into the bathtub. That's where sheriff's deputies found her on Monday.

"We were notified at about 10 o'clock by a family member they were concerned they weren't able to reach her in a few days so one of our officers went to do a welfare check, went into the residence and subsequently found her deceased in the bath tub," said Ida County Sheriff Wade Harriman.

According to Harriman, Bird was on a blood thinner and believed it contributed to her death, saying it would have been difficult for her blood to clot after being bitten.

Authorities also say Bird had a history of struggling to control her dog. Neighbors say the dog was a constant concern for them.

"I thought he might jump over the fence some day and get my kids so I wasn't happy about the dog," said neighbor Luann Nakazawa.

By family request and city ordinance, the dog has been put down.

Officials are calling the death an accident. Bird is survived by her son.

(KTIV - November 18, 2010)

Humane officer, rescue group took 3 abused horses from a Portage County farm littered with cow bones

OHIO -- Three horses were confiscated last week from a Portage County farm. Animal neglect or cruelty charges will be filed this week, officials said.

The Portage Animal Protective League's humane officer, Jeff Hartung, and a sheriff's deputy went to the farm Sept. 5 after a woman reported finding a horse loose in the street.

Investigators found underweight horses and one that had long, deformed hooves. They also found the skeletons of about 30 cows scattered outside the barn.

"The owner claimed that his herd of cows got pneumonia and died about three years ago," said Annette Fisher, director of Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Ravenna.

Fisher's volunteers will care for the horses while the case moves through Portage County Municipal Court.

"The condition of the one horse's hooves was catastrophic, and it was evident that the horse did not have its hooves trimmed for at least a year and a half, and it had extreme difficulty walking," Fisher said. "None of the animals had water."

The name of the farmer will be released once charges are filed.

(Plain Dealer - November 18, 2010)

Nov 19, 2010 Update: Deerfield Township resident Brad Montgomery, 50, was charged Tuesday with three counts of cruelty to animals.

Three horses suffering from malnutrition and overgrown hooves were confiscated from his property on Ohio 14 and are recovering at Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Ravenna.

The Portage County Animal Protective League's humane officer, Jeff Hartung, and a sheriff's deputy went to the farm Sept. 5 after a woman reported finding a horse loose in the street. They found the horses living among the skeletons of about 30 cows.

"The owner claimed that his cows got pneumonia and died about three years ago," Happy Trails founder Annette Fisher said. "The condition of the one horse's hooves was catastrophic, making it extremely difficult to walk. None of the animals had water." The case will move through Portage County Municipal Court.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dog attack victim was “ripped apart”

MAINE -- A woman who was “ripped apart” by a mixed breed dog Friday in LaGrange was airlifted over the weekend from Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Karen Stewart, 41, of the Mattawamkeag area has been placed in a drug-induced coma for her pain, according to her friend Vaughn Adams of LaGrange.

Vaughn Adams describes Ms. Stewart's injuries

“It’s still touch and go,” Adams said late Monday afternoon of Stewart’s condition.

Hospital officials would not release any information about Stewart on Monday.

Adams said Stewart, who is disabled, had been staying a few days at his Forest Street home when she decided to go for a walk alone Friday night and was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. Somehow she managed to drag herself back to his home, he said.

“She was head to toe in blood and mud,” Adams recalled Monday. The dog “took her elbow out, chewed her whole forearm so there was just skin and bone left, her right arm had about a 3-inch-deep by a 4-inch-wide bite taken out, and she had some bites on her head, neck and face.” He said the dog ripped off most of her blouse and tore her pants.

Adams said Stewart, who weighs about 235 pounds and is about 5 feet 6 inches tall, was “ripped apart” and had more than 20 bites on her body.

“When I went to wrap something around her arm, I noticed her elbow was missing,” Adams said. He said he hollered to some other guests in his home to call 911 while he grabbed jackets, a curtain and whatever else he could find to wrap around Stewart’s arms to stop the bleeding. The worst bites were on her arms, so it appeared she was trying to protect herself from the animal, he said.

After the attack, Stewart was taken by ambulance to Penquis Valley High School in Milo, where she was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to EMMC.

The Maine State Police, who earlier reported that the dog was an American bulldog, have charged the animal’s owner, Adam Bemis, 28, with keeping a dangerous dog. Additional charges are possible as the investigation continues, state police Lt. Wesley Hussey said Monday. He said the case will be presented to Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy for his review.

Hussey said the dog was taken to the Bangor Humane Society, where it has been placed under quarantine for at least 10 days. He said his department has been in contact with the state Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Program regarding the dog’s future.

The dog which tore apart Ms. Stewart's arms

Adams said he has known Bemis for 17 years. Bemis has had the large, solidly built dog for several months and has always let it roam unrestricted, he stated.

Adams noted that Stewart was aware his neighbor had dogs but was unaware they were not restrained.

Bemis, who has an unlisted telephone number, could not be reached by telephone Monday for comment.

LaGrange Town Clerk Ella Lyford said Bemis had not licensed the dog with her office.

(Bangor Daily News - Nov 15, 2010)


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Woman’s injury major in LaGrange dog bite

MAINE -- A woman who was attacked by a neighbor’s American Bulldog Friday evening was in critical condition Saturday.

Karen Stewart, 41, was mauled and dragged by the bulldog around 6 p.m. Friday while she was out for a walk on a dirt road that serves as a driveway connecting three different residences off Forest Street.

Police characterized her injuries as “life-threatening.”

“She was walking down a dirt driveway and it was dark,” Maine State Trooper Barry Meserve said Sunday. “The neighbor’s dog apparently attacked her for some reason, but we don’t know why because we haven’t talked to her. She’s still unable to talk.

“The dog is a little bit bigger than a standard bulldog and is maybe 70 to 80 pounds,” Meserve added. “I believe the dog is a purebred, but I haven’t seen any papers. The dog was not chained.”

The dog’s owner is 28-year-old Alden Bemis of 18 Forest St.

“The dog’s owner has been charged with keeping a dangerous dog, but it’s safe to say there may be more charges once the investigation is finished,” said Meserve. “In a normal dog bite case, we wouldn’t be involved, but this is a life-threatening case. We get the occasional dog bite call, but nothing like this.”

The dog that attacked Ms. Stewart

Meserve said there was evidence that the dog dragged Stewart during the attack.

“She was dragged some ways, and evidently was able to crawl back to the residence she was staying at and yell for help and they tried to give her as much aid as they could,” Meserve said.

Stewart was taken by ambulance to Penquis Valley High School in Milo, where she was picked up by a LifeFlight helicopter and flown to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

“I guess you can assume the dog knocked her down somehow, but we don’t know what provoked the attack,” Meserve said. “She’s still unable to talk. When I last spoke to her boyfriend Saturday morning, it was pretty much touch-and-go.”

Karen Stewart, in an older photo
provided by her family

Stewart had been staying with friends nearby, and her permanent residence was not known, according to Meserve.

A nursing supervisor from Eastern Maine Medical Center had no information available on Stewart or her condition Sunday afternoon.

The dog has been quarantined at a public facility while police investigate the attack and the dog’s history and status.

(Bangor Daily News -  Nov 12, 2010)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Florida: Cops Stunned After Ronnie Williams Charged With Starving Dozens of Dogs

FLORIDA -- The discovery of dozens of greyhound racing dogs tormented and left to starve to death after this fall's racing season had ended has angered and appalled law enforcement and humane officials.

Thirty-two grossly emaciated dogs have been found dead at a kennel owned by Ebro dog trainer Ronald John Williams. Another five were found alive, three of them severely malnourished, and are being nursed back to health.


Food for the dogs was found rotting in a broken freezer and several of the animals were found with duct tape tightly wound around their jaws and necks, said Washington County Sheriff Bobby Haddock.

"We don't know if it's a combination of trying to speed up the process [of killing them] or to keep them from barking," he said.

The sheriff was shocked at what his officers discovered.

"Thirty-two years I've been in law enforcement here locally and with the prosecutor's office also … I've never seen animal cruelty cases like this one," Haddock said.

"We hope he rots in prison," said Mark Hess, the assistant manager at the Ebro Greyhound Park in Florida, where the dogs raced this year.

Note: He was sentenced to 5 years for each of the 39 counts of animal cruelty = 195 years. Instead, he served just over 4 years in prison and was released.

Ronnie Williams was charged with 37 counts of felony animal cruelty and is suspected in an animal cruelty investigation in a neighboring county in which the remains of eight more dogs, believed to be greyhounds, were found dumped under a bridge a half-mile from his Ponce de Leon, Fla., home.

Haddock's office is working closely with officials in Walton County to try and tie Williams to the eight dogs found left under a bridge there. Haddock said they're hoping the racing tattoos on the dogs' ears and collars with their names on it will lead to an answer.

Greyhound racing has long pitted adoption volunteers against tracks they accuse of mistreating and exploiting the docile animals.

The California-based Greyhound Protection League accuses the greyhound racing industry on its Web site of being "responsible for incalculable animal suffering and the routine killing of thousands of young, healthy greyhounds each year."

But the president of Greyhound Pets of America, a national greyhound adoption non-profit, takes a more pragmatic approach.

"The majority are well taken care of and treated right," Rory Goree said. "My opinion is if they've been abused a lot, it's going to show up in their temperment and I have not seen it show up in their temperment."

But Goree admitted that Florida is notorious for having the worst tracks in the country and he called Williams "a bum."

"If this guy would have said, 'You take the dogs,' we would have figured out a way to take care of them," Goree said. "There's just no excuse for not even trying."

Ron Williams is being held in the Washington County jail on $74,000 bond. He is next due in court Dec. 6, where he will be assigned a public defender if he does not hire a lawyer before then.

Hess said he understands the intense scrutiny greyhound racing has come under in recent years. Several states have gone so far as to ban dog racing. But Hess said that his track, family owned for decades, takes pride in the responsibility of keeping his dogs safe.

"I have not been able to sleep since this happened," he said. "All I keep thinking is there something in our policies that could have stopped this sooner."

Florida Greyhounds Found Starved, Duct Tape Around Their Necks

Suspicion about Williams' kennel, one of eight Ebro contracts with to train the dogs and house them during the racing season, was raised last month when he brought eight underweight dogs to Ebro's adoption facility looking to unload them.

"Those greyhounds were underweight and appeared … to be very unhealthy," Hess said. "Which raised a red flag for us obviously."


In collaboration with the local chapter of Greyhound Pets of America, a call was placed to the state's Pari-Mutuel Wagering Division, which regulates gambling in Florida as well as horse and greyhound racing.

On Oct. 29, investigators visited Williams' kennel, which Hess called a "horrific scene." Even more frustrating, he said, was that Ebro had given Williams food for the dogs. That food was found rotting in a broken freezer, never given to the dogs.

Haddock said it was obvious that some of the greyhounds had been dead for weeks, possibly never fed again after the racing season closed Sept. 25.

Some were left to rot in their kennels, others had been bagged or put in freezers.

The smell just approaching the kennels, he said, "was pretty bad."

When officials got to the kennels, Haddock said Williams initially tried to pass off the deaths to a broken air-conditioner, saying he was doing regular checks of the dogs.

"Which is hogwash," Haddock said. "These dogs didn't just die and decompose this quick."

Though animal lovers have long blasted the criminal justice system for what they consider to be light treatment of even the worst abusers, Haddock said they were ready to throw to the book at Williams.

"Thirty-seven counts. The reason we charged him that way, we take this serious," Haddock said. "The reason people raise up in arms over animals and kids is because they're defenseless."

Haddock's office has also begun looking into Williams' background, looking both for a motive and for other instances of abuse. They learned he was operating a kennel in Mobile, Ala., Haddock said, but officers there found only healthy animals during a recent welfare check.

Tens of Thousands of Greyhounds Still Race Annually, Despite Track Closings

Williams had been previously disciplined at Ebro, Hess said, but never for anything relating to animal cruelty. He has worked at Ebro for three to four years.

Though the kennels are inspected routinely during the racing season, he said, there is little in the way of mandated welfare checks in the off season. It's a discrepancy Hess has vowed to address when he reviews the track's policies. He's also considering installing cameras in the kennels and hopes other tracks in the area will follow suit in tightening their rules.

Florida has become somewhat of a dumping ground for greyhounds as a result of their poor performance at more upscale tracks as well as a number of track closings. Goree said Greyhound Pets of America has funneled in as much money as they can to care for the dogs coming off the tracks there, but they are drying up quickly.

The Emerald Coast chapter of Greyhound Pets of America, which takes in dogs from the Ebro track, has moved out 700 greyhounds for adoption so far this year, Goree said.

He expects the number of greyhounds put up for adoption to begin dropping in the next five or six years, crediting a decrease in the amount of racers bred this year for the first time.

"Up until a couple of years ago the racing industry was always breeding well more than 20,000 dogs a year," he said. "This year it only looks like there's going to be between 10,000 and 15,000 bred and trained for racing."

Goree attributed track closings in recent years in places like Massachusetts and Connecticut both to awareness of the dogs' treatment and to a general decline in interest. A single track closing can leave as many as 800 dogs being placed with adoption groups or shipped to other tracks.

The American Greyhound Council estimated that there are between 35,000 and 40,000 greyhounds racing at 24 tracks nationwide. More than half the tracks are in Florida. Ninety-five percent of retired racers are put up for adoption.

(ABCNews - November 9, 2010)


Ohio: Nicholas Reynolds, 18, pleads guilty to stealing a baby alpaca and then beating it to death with his friends

OHIO -- A man has pleaded guilty to his role in the beating death of an alpaca last year.

Nicholas Reynolds (aka Nick Reynolds), 18, admitted to several charges Wednesday including animal cruelty, breaking and entering, tampering with evidence, vandalism and grand theft.

He will be sentenced in October. He could face more than 10 years in prison for the alpaca beating and failure to comply with a police officer in an unrelated case.

Investigators said Reynolds, another teen, and a 23-year-old woman stole the 3-month-old baby alpaca named Masterpiece from a Madison Township farm, took turns beating the baby to death and then dumped its tiny body at an abandoned barn in Montgomery County.

Reynolds' attorney said his client wasn't the one who initially beat the animal. Attorney Paris Ellis LIED AND told the judge that Reynolds hit it to put it out of its misery.

Masterpiece's owner, Jeff Pergram, was in court for the plea.

"I'm glad that he just manned up and admitted his guilt. That's a step forward for him also," said Pergram.

Pergram is pushing for legislation that would make animal cruelty a felony in Ohio. Pergram considers the beating the most disturbing charge in the crime but because it's a misdemeanor it carries a lighter sentence. He said that isn't right.

Pergram said he was so distraught by the loss of Masterpiece that he sold his other three alpacas. He originally owned the four for breeding and to sell the fleece.


The other two accused of the baby alpaca's torture death - Stacie Mullins and Marcus Miller - have trial dates set for later this year.

(WCPO - Nov 9, 2010)