Motion To Dismiss Denied In Animal Cruelty Case

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A pretrial hearing was held Monday in Ellis County Court at Law No. 2 on a case involving animal cruelty.

Waxahachie police officers arrested Michelle Lehman on July 29, 2011 for the alleged offence.  Lehman has been charged with 11 counts of cruelty to a non-livestock animal.

Lehman’s attorney, Rodney Ramsey, presented a motion to dismiss to Judge Gene Calvert at Monday’s hearing. Ramsey based his motion that the police officers illegally entered the property and had no probable cause to do so.

Judge Calvert then asked both sides to present evidence.

Ellis County Assistant County and District Attorney Seth McCloskey presented a recording of a 9-1-1 call that prompted the officers to respond to the property. On the recording, the caller reported to dispatchers that he saw a woman beating a dog with a stick in a field as he drove by on Ovilla Road.

Following the playing of the recording, McCloskey called Waxahachie Police Officer David Bittle to the stand. Bittle testified after he had received the call he met with the motorist at a church down the road before going to the location.

Bittle said at the location officers met Lehman at the fence line of the property. Bittle explained their reason for being there. He said Lehman denied the claim that she had beaten an animal.

Both Ramsey and McCloskey asked Bittle if officers had permission to go on the property. Bittle informed the court that Lehman had given the officers permission.

Upon entering the property, Bittle said Lehman had multiple dogs chained up in different places. Plastic barrels had been cut in half to be used as shelters for the animals and some of the animals appeared to be mangy and sick.

Ramsey asked Bittle if he knew what condition the animals were in when they were brought to Lehman’s property, when they were fed or last received water. Bittle said he did not know.

Since the police department does not deal with many cases that involve animals, Bittle said help was requested from Waxahachie Senior Animal Control Officer and Advanced Animal Cruelty Investigator Warren Howell.

Following Bittle’s testimony, Waxahachie Police Officer Brian Fuller was called to testify.

Fuller corroborated Bittle’s testimony about Lehman giving them permission to enter the property and his assessment of the animals.

Waxahachie Police Lt. Billie Pendleton was then called to the stand to reaffirm that the officers made first contact with the defendant outside the gate leading into the property and gained permission first.

Pendleton said she observed that some of the animals where skinny and had skin conditions. Pendleton stated the only food available for the animals at the site, which Lehman referred to as a “rescue facility” was pizza crusts. The water in the bowls was green in some cases, she said.

Ramsey asked Pendleton what made her think that she had a case of animal cruelty? Pendleton said one of the big factors that led to the arrest was the condition of a dog that had been tied up, was out of the reach of water, was sickly and appeared to be deceased or near death.

Howell was then called to the stand and stated that he spoke with the defendant and asked to conduct a welfare check of the animals on the property, which she gave permission to do so.

Howell reported that there were animals that were on short leashes, which resulted in cuts around the neck. He added food bowls were overturned, there were some animals that appeared to be very skinny and some had bones showing.

Some of the animals were in need of immediate medical care, Howell said. One of the examples Howell cited during the hearing about the poor condition of the animals was seeing a cat that passed a tar-like substance directly in front of him.

Lehman then took the stand to provide the court with her testimony. Before answering questions, Judge Calvert advised Lehman of her rights and told her that she was not required to testify in court.

Ramsey asked Lehman if she provided consent for the officers to enter her property. She told the court she did not give consent and said she “didn’t know who the woman who was swinging the stick but wishes (the police) could find her.”

McCloskey asked Lehman how she obtained the pets for a “rescue” shelter. Lehman told the court that some of the animals were owner surrenders because the current owner could not financially take care their pet any more.

Other animals were ones Lehman found on the streets who appeared to be abandoned and in poor health.

Lehman said when she picked them up off the street, she would place flyers at the location where the animal was found or at a local business in effort to contact the owners. A few times owners did contact her and retrieved their pets, but Lehman could provide the court with no records of these events.

During the times she did adopt animals, Lehman told the court she did require a home visit to ensure the safety and welfare of the animal but could not provide any paperwork on adoptions.

McCloskey asked Lehman if medical care was provided to the animals and how she was able to fund these operations. Lehman said she supported the operations on the property through the money she earned as a part-time stagehand. These funds paid for the medical care if the animals got sick and had to see the veterinarian. Visits to the vet were paid in cash, Lehman said. She told the court she did provide documentation of these visits to Howell when he was at the site conducting the welfare check.

Lehman was asked about where the food she received for the animals came from. She told the court the pizza crusts came from a friend who saved them from cleaning tables at local restaurant.

Judge Calvert asked Lehman if she had a separate residence. Lehman said she had places that she could go to but chose to stay with the animals at the barn. Through earlier questioning, Lehman indicated that the barn only had running water that was provided by an outdoor water spicket.

At the end of the pre-trial hearing, Judge Calvert ruled that the officers responding to the call had probable cause and had the right to enter the property based on the evidence provided in court.

Calvert denied Ramsey’s motion to suppress.

Following his decision, jury selection for the trial was set for 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 12.

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Lisbon Man Facing Animal Cruelty Charges

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LISBON – A Lisbon area man has been charged with 10 counts of animal cruelty following an investigation by an agent of the Humane Society of Columbiana County.

In Columbiana County Municipal Court on Monday, a July 18 pretrial was set for Thomas Henry, 69, Shady Lane, Lisbon. The 10 counts of animal cruelty followed two visits to Henry’s home, as well as reports from concerned neighbors.

Court documents allege that on April 21 a county humane agent found numerous live chickens, four to six goats and a calf in a small shed with one dead calf, a decaying goat carcass and a number of dead chickens. There was no food or water.

On May 7, someone reported to the humane officer that Henry was abusing his dog by putting a chain around its neck, yanking it off its feet and punching it in the face, neck and back. At that time, Henry reportedly threatened to shoot the dog.

While executing a search warrant on the property on May 9, the humane officer reportedly found 32 chickens and seven pygmy goats living in a shed without food or water with some of the chickens emaciated or diseased. One chicken reportedly was stuck with its head between the walls of the shed and the other chickens were eating it alive.

Additionally, two dead chickens were found in cages and there were two dead decaying calves and a goat carcass in the shed. A third decaying calf was found on the back porch and a deceased, decaying dog was found outside the entrance to the shed. Two dogs were found tied with chains, without dog boxes or shelters and without food or water.

In an unrelated case, Henry was fined $25 after he pleaded guilty to failure to confine his dog after numerous complaints of it running off his property and nearly being hit by vehicles.


Video: Emaciated Horse Seized; Owner Faces Animal Cruelty Charges

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“To all owners of horses or any other animal for that matter…if you can’t feed or treat any injury they have…PLEASE tell your local animal shelter; so that they can try to help you out before it gets too late!! If you don’t, then just do us all a favour & go take a long walk off a very short pier; because you are using up valuable tax payers money to get you prosecuted!! Seriously…there is no excuse or shame in opening your gobs & asking for help, that’s presuming you actually care about animals, in the first place!!”

Animal control officers seized a horse Monday that they said was starving and had no water.

They were alerted to the animal’s plight after a woman reported finding it wandering in the road late Friday, near the intersection of McCarver Street and Eastman Road.

Nancy Garwood noticed the paint horse as she returned home from work about midnight.

The horse lover keeps tack in the trunk of her car, so she stopped, got a lead rope and approached the frightened animal.

“I got out and he let me carry him with the rope,” Garwood said.

She called police who helped take the stallion back to the property located in the 200 block of McCarver Street.

Emaciated Horse Seized In Longview

Published on 3 Jun 2013

Animal control officers seized a horse from its owner in South Longview Monday afternoon.

“That horse escaped to tell us his story,” Garwood said. “He escaped to tell us he was back here with no food and no water.”

Richard Fincher, executive director for Safe Haven Equine Rescue Center, said the horse had been tied to a tree without feed, grass, shelter or water and was severely underweight.

“He’s got a body weight of one. On a scale of one to nine, that’s about as low as you can go without death,” Fincher said.

He said the horse would be taken to a veterinarian for a medical examination.

Fincher and Garwood estimated the horse to be about 10 years old, and Fincher said it is not clear how long it had been since the horse had been fed.

Garwood said finding the horse created a bond — one she hopes will lead to her adopting the animal.

“Once he is rehabilitated and they put weight on him and get him his shots, I would love to take him, she said.

But Fincher said Safe Haven Equine Rescue operates under a rule that prevents them from placing animals in homes in the same county in which the animal was seized.

James Crittenden, an investigator with the Gregg County District Attorney’s office, did not release the owner’s name.

He said the DA’s office was preparing to file a charge of animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor.

“We’ve got two bad situations here. The condition of the horse and he was out in the road where he could’ve caused a terrible accident,” Crittenden said.

“He got out because he was searching for food and water.”

Shane Johnson, who was visiting a neighbor nearby, said he didn’t know the name of the horse’s owner but had seen the owner with the horse Monday morning.

“They feed him, but they don’t give him enough, I can tell you that,” Johnson said. “I’ve fed his horse myself. I’ve given him a whole bale of hay.”

Johnson said he didn’t notice the horse’s condition since the last time he fed him and never contacted authorities.

“That horse turned him (the owner) in when he went down there on Eastman Road,” Johnson said.

Crittenden said cases involving neglected horses are not common but it happens frequently enough that his office makes sure people know they will be charged if they do not take care of their animals.

These cases will be prosecuted,” he said.

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Camden Dog Owner Arrested for Starving Dog To Death: Laineys Story

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ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. — The owner of a dog that died earlier this week from starvation is now facing charges.

Starved Dog Died

Ian West, 25, was arrested by the sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Unit on a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals. His dog, Lainey, was rescued on Friday from his home in Camden. Officials say the dog was left outside without food or water for months.

Lainey was an Australian shepherd mix, a breed which normally weighs about 45-50 pounds. But when she was found, they say she only weighed 15 pounds and was so weak, she could barely stand.

Lainey died Monday after being taken to the Rome Humane Society.

Two Rottweiler mix puppies were also taken from the home.

West was arraigned in the Town of Camden Court and is being held on $5,000 bail.

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Rome Humane Society officials say they take in at least one abused animal a month. Some who have been beaten, others neglected. But this past weekend, workers at the Humane Society say they saw one of their saddest cases yet, when an extremely emaciated dog came through their door and died from her injuries. Our Cara Thomas tells us Lainey’s story and what local animal lovers are doing to make sure the abuser is brought to justice.

ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. –“Lainey was pure, unadulterated love with everything she was going through, she always wanted to lick your hand and cuddle in your arms,” said Kim Strong, an animal behaviorist and trainer.

Lainey Starved To Death

Abused and neglected, Lainey, an Australian shepherd mix, was found last Friday at a home on Babcock Road in Camden. She was without food, without water and was only skin and bones.

Rome Humane Society’s Director Sarah Starczewski said, “You could put with one hand, your whole hand would fit finger to finger around her neck and around her stomach and waist area.”

Rescued by an Oneida County Sheriff’s deputy and the Camden dog control officer, officials say she was so weak she couldn’t even hold up her head. People involved in Lainey’s rescue believe she had been starved for months.

“He would get out of his truck every day and walk past Lainey to get into his home knowing that this dog was starving. Crying, Lainey eating stones and grass to try to survive. He was very aware of what was going on with her,” said Starczewski.

They took Lainey to the veterinarian, put her on a very strict diet and provided around the clock care, but that wasn’t enough. On Monday morning, Lainey died from starvation.

“It wasn’t her time to go. She was forced onto the rainbow bridge because nobody cared enough to stop this man,” says Strong.

The people involved in Lainey’s rescue say their biggest worry is that her abuser may get away with it as animal cruelty laws aren’t as simple as some may think.

Strong explains, “The laws are a part of the Department of Agriculture. They’re extremely confusing and most people aren’t trained in them. We don’t have an Oneida County animal control officer.”

Animal advocates say it’s time for social change. They say animal cruelty laws aren’t on the animal’s side and normally these cases are pushed under the rug. So they’re reaching out to local legislators hoping to change these laws for the better.

“We need to be fighting in her name. There needs to be a Lainey’s Law so this never happens again,” said Strong.

Officials from the Oneida County Sheriff’s office say animal cruelty charges are currently pending.

Justice for Lainey Facebook Page has been set up.

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Monday was Lainey’s Day for Humane Society

Animal rights advocates in Oneida County are starting a new push for tougher laws against animal abuse. YNN’s Andrew Sorensen tells us the story of one dog who inspired thousands of people to stand up for the cause.

Human Society Never Forget Lainey

ROME, N.Y. — Everything from the flowers to the candles is technically for Lainey.

“They’re supposed to show Lainey that we’re all standing here for her,” said advocate Kim Strong.

“Today we’re honoring a life cut short. Lainey’s Day,” Humane Society of Rome Operations Manager Sarah Starczewski said.

“Lainey’s story is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Strong.

Strong has taken in abused dogs before. Her dog, Sapphir,e was starved down to 19 pounds before she took him in. But this one was different.

“That kind of gentleness out of a dog that was tortured for so long broke the camel’s back for me,” she said. Lainey was found in Camden on May 17th. “I have not to date seen a dog that was starved to that point,” said Starczewski. She ended up with Starczewski at the Humane Society of Rome.

“When she would go outside, because she would want to go outside to go to the bathroom, she had to be held by someone underneath so she could actually walk without falling over,” Starczewski said.

Lainey died and her owner was charged with felony animal cruelty. But Starczewski said too often, those charges don’t stick. “It shouldn’t be okay or even looked over to do what you did to an animal and just get a slap on the wrist,” she said.

So Lainey’s death sparked a new flame. “I decided to tell her story to Facebook and we got so many people that care. Because the story was real and it’s unconscionable,” said Strong.

“Now we have over 3,000 people that are supporting this,” Starczewski explained. They’re starting with a memorial and an award to honor Lainey and rescuers. “The candles are supposed to light the way for change,” Strong said.

Strong also said she doesn’t think that alone will change people who do these kinds of things. “No. But it’s a beginning,” she said. Their ultimate goal is stiffer felony penalties to make sure those people are held accountable.

The Humane Society of Rome says they plan to give out the award on a regular basis to someone who has been a hero or a guardian to animals in the community.

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Cops: Medford Man Shot Neighbours Dog With BB Gun

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Medford man was arrested Sunday evening on animal cruelty charges after allegedly shooting his neighbor’s dog with a BB gunSuffolk County police said.

Martin Frey, 54, of Medford, faces animal cruelty charges after shooting  dog in the face with a BB gun, Suffolk police say. Credits: SCPD

Martin Frey, 54, of 84 Lincoln Road, is awaiting arraignment Monday at First District Court in Central Islip after being charged with one count of animal cruelty and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

According to police, at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sixth Precinct patrol officers received a 911 call from a woman at 82 Lincoln Road reporting that her neighbor had shot her dog.

When police officers Ettore Naclerio and Michael Cafarella arrived to the home, they noticed that the German Shepard had a BB gun pellet lodged in his nose and the dog was bleeding. Police said the injuries were non-life-threatening.

Frey was arrested at the scene and police said he was found to be in possession of a gravity knife when he was arrested, spurring the weapons possession charge.

He was held overnight in police custody and held for morning arraignments, police said.

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Pastor’s Animal Cruelty Trial Draws A Crowd

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The misdemeanor trial of a pastor charged with animal cruelty in the death of a cat drew a crowd of 25 onlookers Monday, overshadowing the Bastrop County commissioners meeting next door.

The defendant, 56-year-old Rick Bartlett, the former pastor of Bastrop Christian Church, was the chaplain for the Bastrop Police Department at the time the cat died. The crowd in the courtroom

Rick Bartlett

included Sarah and Eddie Bellowners of Moody, the dead cat — who are suing Bartlett for damages, and Sheila Smith who heads Shadow Cats, a Central Texas nonprofit cat rescue.

Bartlett, who had complained of strays in his neighborhood, trapped the cat and took it to the police department Jan. 17, 2012. Animal control officer Susan Keys pointed out that the cat had tags with the address and phone number for its owners, and offered to return it to them, an arrest affidavit says.

But Bartlett convinced Keys to allow him to return the cat. According to the affidavit, after Bartlett drove away Moody either fell or jumped out of the cage because the cage door had been left open.

Moody was found, badly injured, under the tall bridge over the Colorado River near downtown. Prosecutors allege Bartlett, who last had custody of Moody, was careless and charged him with animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor.

Bartlett had nothing to do with the cat’s death, his attorney said. A five-man, one-woman jury is deciding the case this week.

Keys, who no longer works with animal control, was one of the first witnesses. She testified that while she has no personal knowledge of how the cat ended up on a walking path in the park with serious injuries, she had last seen it with Bartlett, and she became suspicious of his story when questioning him two days later.

A former Bastrop pastor is on trial for animal cruelty in connection with the death of Moody, the cat.

“I trusted him to do that,” said Keys of allowing Bartlett to return the cat to its owners. Keys later went to the park in response to an injured animal call, and took the cat to a veterinarian’s office, where it died.

Keys testified she called Bartlett on Jan. 19 to ask if he knew what happened. “I asked him if he let the cat out of the trap. He said, ‘no.’ He said he went back to the church and it was ‘just gone.’

Keys said she turned the case over to police. “I became suspicious about him being honest,” she said. Under questioning by county prosecutor James Rhodes, Keys also said she learned that Bartlett changed his story when talking to police. “I did hear that,” she said. Defense attorney Chris Dillon objected to the statement as hearsay.

In his opening statement to the jury, Dillon said the cat was fine when Bartlett last saw it. “Rick came back to the church and parked in the shade to protect the cat. At about 1 p.m., he let the cat out of the cage. Three-and-a-half hours later the cat was found,” he said.

Testimony resumes Thursday morning. Dillon said Monday he had not decided whether Bartlett will take the stand.

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More Charges Against Women In Animal Cruelty Case

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“Two sets of news about this abuser, over 100 dogs & cats living in filth; I just prey they are well enough to come through this & go to homes were they will be loved & cared for. So take a good look at her face…because she is known for stealing dogs too! Lets hope justice is served & she is never allowed to own animals ever again!” 

ABERDEEN, Miss. (WTVA) — More charges have been filed against a woman arrested after last week’s discovery of animals found living in poor conditions.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department says 40-year-old 
Cindy Ann House of Hamilton was arrested again Wednesday to face an additional 12 counts of cruelty to animals and five felony counts of dog stealing.

Cindy Ann House, neglected over 100 dogs & cats

Her first arrest was earlier this week only on one animal cruelty charge.

The criminal case began on March 21 when deputies showed up at her home on Center Hill Road to find approximately 100 dogs and several cats.

Sheriff Cecil Cantrell says the animals were living in deplorable conditions.

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ABERDEEN, Miss. (WTVA) — A Hamilton, Mississippi woman has been arrested on charges of animal cruelty.

Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell says Cindy Ann House, 40, was arrested Monday.

Authorities had been looking for her since the discovery of over 100 dogs and cats living at her home on Center Hill Road.

Cantrell says the animals were living in deplorable conditions.

The animals were removed by Amory Humane Society where they will be evaluated and treated.

House is currently being held at Monroe County Detention Center.

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