Wearing an elaborately embroidered shirt and a black fedora, Howard Davis, 53, of East Hudson Street pleaded not guilty to two charges of animal abandonment in Toledo Municipal Court.
After the hearing, Dave Toska, the city’s chief prosecutor, filed a third charge of cruelty to companion animals: Custodian deprived or confined without sustenance or shelter. Mr. Davis is to enter his plea on that charge April 23 before Judge Timothy Kuhlman. He is to be in court for a pretrial hearing on the abandonment charges at the same time.
Mr. Davis is accused of putting the puppies into a canvas suitcase, zipping it up, and it them with the pups’ mother, who was tied to a large garbage container, in the alley behind 3442 Stickney Ave. about one-quarter mile from the house from which he was moving.
The incident has gained attention from people worldwide who have asked about adopting the pups.
Mr. Davis said he is retired and asked for a court-appointed attorney, qualifying for one because of limited income. Jonathan Brown of the public defender‘s office was temporarily appointed to handle Mr. Davis’ arraignment; the court will appoint another attorney to represent him in the future.
Visiting Judge Charles Wittenberg, who presided over Friday’s hearing, did not set a bond; Mr. Davis remains free on his own recognizance. All three charges are second-degree misdemeanors and carry up to 90 days in jail and a $750 maximum fine.
He declined to comment after the hearing. He has two prior misdemeanor convictions from April 11, 2008, for failing to obtain liability insurance for vicious dogs and failing to keep a vicious or dangerous dog on a chain-link leash less than 6 feet long. The Toledo Area Humane Society believes Mr. Davis owns a male “pit bull”-type dog, which is possibly the puppies’ father.
The mother dog, Maddie, a bulldog mix, and the three male and three female puppies have been moved to an area foster home and are doing well, said John Dinon, humane society executive director. The foster home wishes to remain anonymous to avoid public and media attention, said Mr. Dinon, whose agency handled the investigation of the case.
One hurdle that remains is for Mr. Davis to turn over ownership of the mom and puppies to the humane society. “The puppies are in legal limbo right now,” Mr. Dinon said. “But I’m hopeful that the case will be resolved by the time they are ready to go up for adoption in about four weeks.” The humane society is not taking applications or compiling a waiting list for the popular puppies, said Mr. Dinon, who said the agency has received calls from all 50 states from people inquiring about their adoption.
Maddie also will be available for adoption, but not until all the puppies have been weaned and adopted.
Mr. Dinon said he is planning to meet with Maumee Police Department officials to discuss how to best handle the anticipated crowds on the day the puppies go up for adoption. “I’ve had people ask if they can camp out overnight in the parking lot the night before the puppies go up for adoption,” he said. “These are puppies, not Rolling Stones tickets.”
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