Boulder judge: No probable cause Tater the dog ‘tortured’ by owner in stomping case

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Tater the dog (Humane Society of Boulder Valley)

A Boulder County judge threw out felony animal cruelty charges Thursday against the man accused of stomping on his 4-month-old puppy Tater last month, but Boulder’s district attorney — stressing the importance of pursuing cruelty cases — said he may appeal the decision.

Judge David Archuleta ruled prosecutors did not show they have probable cause to try Edward McMorris, 26, on felony charges in the alleged beating. McMorris could still face misdemeanor animal cruelty charges, but Archuleta said he did not find evidence McMorris “knowingly tortured” Tater, which is the requirement for the felony charge.

McMorris, a transient, still faces a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a police officer.

“When we see this case, people might say, ‘Oh my God, he’s torturing that animal,’ and we might use that language,” Archuleta said at the end of Thursday’s preliminary hearing.“But legally, to make it a felony, I don’t think it rises to that level.”

Edward McMorris (Boulder County Sheriff’s Office)

Eric Zale, McMorris’ attorney, argued that Tater didn’t suffer serious injury.

“This was not some sadistic kid,” Zale told the judge. “There was no bruising, no broken bones. The dog had food in its stomach and it was friendly.”

After the ruling, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said his office will review the case and could file an appeal within the next few days.

“Animal cruelty cases are a top priority in this community,” Garnett said. “We will go over the record of the case and determine whether we want to move forward with an appeal.”

If he doesn’t appeal, Garnett said he could instead file misdemeanor animal cruelty charges. The DA’s office has 14 days to file a notice of appeal.

According to a police report, officers began receiving calls around 11:48 p.m. Aug. 29 from witnesses saying a man was kicking and stomping a dog near the intersection of Canyon Boulevard and Broadway.

Boulder police Officer Ashly Flynn, who was the first officer to arrive at the scene, testified at McMorris’s preliminary hearing that she heard the dog yelping and then observed McMorris dragging Tater behind him.

“I believed the dog was in a situation where it was endangered,” she said.

Flynn said when she finally was able to get the dog away from McMorris, it crawled under a bench and had trouble getting up when police tried to transport it to a veterinarian.

Witnesses told police they saw McMorris stomp and kick the dog, with one of them saying the yelps sounded like “screams of agony,” which Deputy District Attorney Jenny McClintock said was proof McMorris knew what he was doing to the dog.

Witnesses described him hitting (the dog) over and over again, so this was not a case of him losing his temper once,” McClintock said. “This was a shocking. People were standing on the side of the street screaming.

But Archuleta said that while torture was not defined in previous cases, he noted that “excessive beating” is normally classified as a misdemeanor.

“From what I heard today from the witnesses, that’s what this was,” he said. “There isn’t probable cause the animal was tortured.”

After McMorris was arrested, Tater was taken to the Boulder Emergency Vet Clinic and kept overnight. The dog has since been transferred to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. No one is being allowed to adopt Tater while the case against McMorris remains open, according to the Humane Society.

McMorris, who remains in custody at the Boulder County Jail on $3,000 bond, is scheduled for a case management conference Oct. 4.

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Dog dragged behind mo-ped in need of a home

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“Those that want to do the same thing to the owner…get behind me!”

The black dog’s nails were worn down to the quick. The pads of her feet were raw and bloody. She had road rash on her belly and knees.

lab-chow mix, was rescued by Animal Control and Cleveland County Humane Society after being dr

According to animal control, Joe Louis Wilson, 73, of Chestnut Street, tied the chow/Labrador retriever mix behind his mo-ped and dragged the dog behind him as he rode.

Sam Lockridge, Cleveland County health services coordinator, said Wilson was charged in May with misdemeanor cruelty to animals and conveying animals in a cruel manner, but animal control is seeking more severe charges after discovering Wilson has a past record of animal abuse.

Since Wilson was charged, the dog was seized by animal control and taken in by the Cleveland County Humane Society.

‘She wants to bond with somebody’

Marguerite Mebane, president of the Humane Society, said the dog spent the first two or three weeks at the vet’s office recovering from her injuries.

“Dr. Deanna Moseley (with Hope Animal Hospital) had her for the first couple of weeks because her pads were so raw from being dragged (that) they were basically ripped off,” Mebane said. “Her toe nails were worn down practically to the bone.

She said the dog, re-named Sunshine, had to have surgery on one of her knees to close up a wound that wasn’t healing.

Mebane said she has been providing a foster home for the spayed jet black dog until she is adopted.

“She’s still real shy around new people,” Mebane said. “But she’s definitely making good progress.”

Sunshine is a classic example of a dog that has been chained up her whole life with no socialization, Mebane said.

“Everything frightens her,” she said. “A door closing scares her. Any little thing can put her into a panic reaction.”

Mebane said Sunshine is not aggressive, but does try to flee when frightened.

She wants to bond with somebody desperately,” she said. “She learns very quickly and adapts very quickly.”

Animal Control staff and Humane Society working together

Lockridge said animal control doesn’t just answer animal cruelty calls, but is also dedicated to getting animals back to a healthy condition. “Our staff is very compassionate,” he said.

Lockridge said animal control shelter staff often works with the local Humane Society to provide animals medical care and ultimately, be adopted.

“The Humane Society continues to seek funding for the Clifford Fund,” he said. “What that fund is designed to do is, we run across a situation of cruelty or an animal needs vet attention…we use those monies for preventative vet care.

Lockridge said it is very important to get vet care for animals that have been mistreated instead of just euthanizing the animal and the Clifford Fund is a way to provide that medical attention.

“We need to be able to help animals that need help,” he said.

Mebane said if interested in Sunshine, people can contact the Cleveland County Humane Society at 704-487-4041.

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For the Love of the Dog

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Jimmy Lovell

He dragged his estranged girlfriend’s dog for miles behind his pickup truck.  Stops…curses at the witnesses, and later abandons the poor thing on the side of the road.  All unintentional he claims.  And he “really felt bad about it and stuff”.

His trial was held last week and resulted in a deadlocked jury.  They only deliberated for two hours.  The judge had no choice but to declare a mistrial and set a new trial for August 7.   Lovely.  We can probably expect the same come August.

It took many weeks for Little Brown Dog to recover from her injuries.  But she’s happy in a new home with a veterinarian and has her own Facebook page called “Justice for LBD.”

via For the Love of the Dog.

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