Former Baltimore police officer Jeffrey Bolger will receive $45,000 in back pay for the time he spent on unpaid leave after slitting a dog’s throat.
Bolger, 50, was acquitted last year of animal cruelty charges after killing the dog — a Sharpei who had wandered away from her home.
The Baltimore Sun reports that, pending approval today from the Board of Estimates, Bolger will get payment for about 10 months of paychecks.
Despite police commanders called the killing “outrageous and unacceptable” — and witness who claimed to have heard Bolger say, “I’m going to (expletive) gut this thing” — Phinn ruled the officer was acting in the interest of public safety.
Bolger was forced to retire early from the Police Department, but under the police union contract, he is entitled to receive back wages for the period he was suspended.
Steven H. Levin, who defended Bolger, said his client was unnecessarily charged and suspended from the department. “The evidence was overwhelming that Mr. Bolger acted appropriately,” Levin said Monday.
Nala escaped through a gate in her Canton backyard, and bit the hand of a woman who was trying to rescue her.
Witnesses told police that fellow officer Thomas Schmidt held down the dog while Bolger slit her throat. Charges against Schmidt were later dropped.
(Photo: Nala and her owner, Sarah Gossard)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 9th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: $45, 000, acquitted, animals, back pay, baltimore, contract, dog, dogs, jeffrey bolger, killed, knife, law enforcement, nala, officer, pets, police, police union, police. officer, runaway, sarah grossard, sharpei, slit, throat, trial
There was no justice for Nala in Baltimore this week.
A Baltimore Circuit Court judge on Thursday acquitted a former city police officer charged with animal cruelty, misconduct and mutilating an animal after he slit the seven-year-old Shar-Pei’s throat in the summer of 2014.
Judge Melissa M. Phinn said the state did not present adequate evidence that proved Jeffrey Bolger, 50, was responsible for the death.
That despite the fact he pulled out a knife and drew it across the throat of a dog already restrained by a catchpole — after uttering, at least according to one witness, “I’m going to gut this thing.”
Phinn noted that the verdict might not be popular, but said the evidence indicated the officer was acting in the interest of public safety and putting the dog out of it’s misery.
She also noted that Maryland’s Chief Medical Examiner David R. Fowler testified that the dog likely was dead before her throat was cut.
Phinn said that Bolger would not have the expertise to know the dog was already dead when he slit its throat.
Bolger’s attorneys — attempting to cover all the bases — had argued both that the dog was already dead and that Bolger was attempting to euthanize the dog in the most humane way possible.
“Rather than have a dog suffer needlessly, a dog that was going to be tested for rabies, he decided to make an incision,” said Bolger’s attorney, Steven H. Levin, said as he left the courthouse with his client on Thursday.
Apparently, at least according to the defense arguments the judge bought, Bolger — or should we call him Dr. Bolger — decided to euthanize an already subdued dog he wasn’t sure was dead or alive out of the goodness of his heart with his trusty pocket knife.
Contrary to the state medical examiner’s findings, a necropsy performed by a doctor working for the city’s animal control determined a cut artery led to the dog’s death.
The state medical examiner said those findings were faulty, and while some witnesses said they heard the dog whimper and that her eyes remained opened before Bolger cut her, the medical examiner testified that both signs are not uncommon even after death.
The judge noted that, while one witness said they heard Bolger say, “I’m going to gut this thing,” another person within earshot did not recall him use the phrase.
Prosecutor Paul O’Connor had argued the Bolger had no reason to slit the dog’s throat, saying she was already restrained when Bolger cut her.
Bolger’s attorneys argued that the officer did not have proper equipment to sedate the dog, that the dog choked “itself” to death while on the pole, and that Bolger used the knife to protect the public.
Both that pole and Nala’s collar “disappeared” long before the trial started.
Nala escaped from her yard last year and was spotted roaming the streets of a Highlandtown neighborhood. Police were called after she bit a pregnant woman who was trying to rescue her from traffic.
Bolger had no comment to reporters at the trial’s conclusion, other than to thank his attorneys. The dog’s owner, Sarah Gossard, 30, left the courtroom in tears.
In a Facebook post Thursday, she said she was “heartbroken,” by the judge’s verdict.
“I do believe that just because this judge didn’t find the evidence sufficient, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t kill her. I don’t feel that justice was served but I can only hope that Nala’s death has raised animal cruelty awareness.”
After the trial, Bolger’s attorneys talked about their client’s suffering — that’s right, Bolger’s suffering.
Levin said the case drew nationally publicity, negatively affected his client’s life and forced him to retire early from the police department and suffered after having been suspended without pay.
State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said her office was disappointed by the judge’s decision. “It will not deter us from pursuing and prosecuting those who commit heinous acts against animals,” she said.
Katie Flory, who heads the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission and is director of Community Affairs for the Maryland SPCA, said she was also disappointed by the verdict.
“We are very sad and frustrated to hear that a guilty verdict was not given today. It shows us that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the egregious acts to animals in our city,” she told the Baltimore Sun.
“We are very sad for Sarah’s family,” Flory added. “It’s not going to bring Nala back and we hoped for justice for Nala, and for her family.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, catch pole, catchpole, circuit court, cut, death, dog, dogs, jeffrey bolger, judge melissa phinn, killed, mutilation, nala, not guilty, officer, pets, police, shar-pei, sharpei, slashed, slit, throat, verdict
A former Pittsburgh Steeler, who made feel-good news last year when his Baltimore Raven brother donated a kidney to him, has let his dog languish in a Baltimore kennel for more than nine months.
Chris Kemoeatu, the former Steeler, and his brother Ma’ake Kemoeatu, a Raven whose decision to donate a kidney ended his career, moved back to their home in Hawaii to open a family gym.
In November, 2014, they dropped Chris’s dog, Zeus, at a kennel intending to retrieve him later.
But the six-year-old Cane Corso hasn’t been picked up from Pooches and Purrs on Holabird Avenue, and the kennel owners are getting tired of footing the Super Bowl veteran’s bill for room, board and veterinary care.
While several have offered to adopt the dog, Chris Kemoeatu has repeatedly asked the kennel owners to wait a little longer for the dog to be picked up.
The situation was described yesterday in a report by WRAL’s I-Team. You can watch the report here.
Pooches and Purrs owners Keith and Renee Mason say the former Steeler’s bill has grown to nearly $10,000 since the dog was dropped off last November, about three months after the transplant surgery.
Renee Mason said she last spoke to Chris Kemoeatu three weeks ago.
“He said he was coming back in about a week or two and then we were going to move forward, and then I didn’t hear from him,” she said. “Technically, I could have found a home after 10 days, but I’m trying to do the right thing for the dog.”
“I have two perfectly good homes for this dog and I said, ‘They really want the dog, just sign the dog over or whatever. I can find a home for your dog. I have two people waiting.’ And he said, ‘Please don’t get rid of my dog,’ and the dog is still here.”
We won’t suggest the Baltimore kennel owners might be more patient if the dog belonged to the former Raven brother — because we think they have been plenty patient already.
“I know that he had medical issues, so I was trying to be understanding, but, I mean, he’s taking advantage, completely,” Renee Mason said.
(Photo: The Kemoeatu brothers at a press conference after the 2014 kidney transplant; by Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 5th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, animals, baltimore, baltimore ravens, brothers, Chris Kemoeatu, dog, dogs, hawaii, kennel, kidney, Ma'ake Kemoeatu, nfl, pets, Pittsburgh Steelers, pooches and purrs, transplant
Once there was a Raven, an alligator and a dog, and the latter two were allegedly abused and neglected by the former.
Apparently that’s all the information officials think we’re entitled to as the curious case of Terrence Cody continues not to unfold.
Even with news of his indictment — the former Baltimore Raven faces 15 charges — what is alleged to have transpired in the Baltimore County home of Cody isn’t being shared with the public.
The charges include two counts of aggravated animal cruelty with a dog, five counts of animal abuse or neglect with the same dog, five counts of abuse or neglect in connection with alligator, and one count of illegal possession of an alligator, according to Deputy State’s Attorney John Cox.
But what exactly Cody is accused of doing, or neglecting to do, in connection with both animals is being left to our imaginations.
That, especially given he was in the NFL, leaves us free to picture the worst — as in staging fights between the two species, as in maybe the alligator went unfed until it tried to eat the dog, as in maybe Cody used them both to attack a girlfriend on an elevator, as in who knows what.
That’s a disservice, to the public and to Cody.
“Ban Terrence Cody From the NFL for Allegedly Feeding His Dog to His Pet Alligator!” says a headline on the website Care2. Clicking on a link to a petition, though, readers are informed “Terrence Cody did not feed his dog to his alligator as the author of the petition has falsely indicated. New info reveals that his dog passed away as a result of worms, after being severely neglected by the ex-Ravens player.”
When there is an information void, our imaginations, and sometimes our websites, are only to happy to fill it.
Once an indictment is revealed, some details should be released by authorities that go beyond “he did something illegal to this animal and to that animal.”
Imagine if law enforcement and prosecutors had taken that no-details approach in the Michael Vick case. Imagine if they had said, “We seized all these dogs because something bad was going on, but we’re not going to say what until the story unravels in court — if it even goes to court.
News that Cody, 26, was being investigated for animal cruelty came out the same day the Ravens announced he was being released from the team.
The Ravens didn’t go into the allegations, and coach John Harbaugh, in announcing Cody’s termination, said only that the “threshold of tolerance” had changed in the NFL. “It’s a privilege to play in the National Football League. It’s a privilege to be a part of the Ravens. There’s a standard to uphold there, and we expect them to.”
Cody was officially released from the team Monday — the same day the indictment came out.
The indictment says the felony aggravated animal cruelty charges (they carry a maximum three-year sentence) stem from the death of his Presa Canario.
Through the indictment, the public learned there was an alligator involved as well — though not necessarily in connection with the dog’s death. In addition to five counts of abuse or neglect of the alligator, Cody was also charged with one count of possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia and one count of possession of marijuana.
The investigation was started after Cody took his dog to a veterinarian.
Peter Schaffer, Cody’s agent, told the Baltimore Sun that Cody took the dog to a vet for treatment of worms, and that the dog died there. He didn’t share any additional details, either.
“This is all a result of the NFL allowing players to be convicted before they’re tried,” Schaffer said. “If Terrence wasn’t a public figure, they wouldn’t have ever charged him. It’s just ridiculous.”
Cody, having played in only one game last season, wasn’t too major a public figure, and maybe that’s why law enforcement and prosecutors think they can get away with providing virtually no information about what transpired.
He was a nose tackle, not a quarterback, and possibly authorities thought the case could pass quietly under the radar.
The alligator twist probably kept that from happening.
Other than informing us that Cody turned himself in and was released on $10,000 bail, and dutifully reporting the few details officials have released, there hasn’t been much digging, it seems, by the news media.
The NFL has said it would look into the case only if Cody signs with another team, according to a Baltimore Sun report.
Manwhile, the news media, and the animal welfare community, should be demanding some details.
One, because we have a right to know. Two, because animal cruelty cases shouldn’t be swept under rugs. It is through exposure that problems can be addressed and changes can occur.
What, exactly, is Terrence Cody alleged to have done? Why, exactly, aren’t law and order types letting us know? And, while the dog died, and while Cody will be a Raven nevermore, what has become of the alligator?
Posted by John Woestendiek February 4th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alligator, animal cruelty, animal welfare, baltimore, baltimore county, baltimore ravens, charged, details, dog, indicted, indictment, investigatio, law enforcement, presa canario, prosecution, public, ravens, released, right to know, team, terrence cody
Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer who slit the throat of a sharpei on a city street in June tried to put a new spin on his actions in court last week, entering a not guilty plea and suggesting Officer Jeffrey Bolger was heroically trying to save the unborn child of the pregnant woman the dog had bitten.
Fortunately, the judge didn’t immediately buy it, and declined a request from defense lawyers to dismiss the animal cruelty charges filed against Bolger.
The pregnant woman, meanwhile, is calling bullshit.
“Don’t try and make yourself a hero when you made a grave mistake,” she said in a a radio interview last week, after Bolger’s initial court appearance. “Try and say I’m sorry.”
In court on Thursday, lawyers for the 22-year veteran of the police force said Bolger was “legally authorized” to kill the dog, named Nala, and that he was acting to protect the unborn child of a woman the dog had bitten.
He entered a not guilty plea to two counts of animal mutilation, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office. Both Bolger, 49, and a second officer, who held Nala while Bolger slit her throat, have been suspended.
His attorney’s reasoning went like this: Had the dog escaped from police, the woman would have had to undergo a series of rabies shots, putting her baby at risk. Due to that, and the dangers the attorney said the dog posed to citizens nearby, Bolger made the decision to “euthanize” Nala in the safest manner possible.
“Bolger considered using his firearm, but he determined that there was too much danger of a ricochet bullet injuring bystanders,” his lawyers said. “Instead, he used his knife in a fashion intended to cause the dog the least amount of pain and place the public in the least amount of danger.”
What’s underplayed in attorney’s brief is that, when that decision was made, the dog had already been subdued with a catch pole.
The attorneys said Bolger and other officers struggled with the dog for more than an hour, the Baltimore Sun reported.
And they said Bolger didn’t say “I’m going to gut this (expletive) thing,” as some witnesses reported. Instead, they submit, he said he was going to have to “cut” the dog because of the lack of other available options.
Among those who found the attorney’s statements ludicrous was Sandy Fleischer, the pregnant woman who was trying to help the dog and keep police from harming her. She spoke out after the incident — and she did so again after Bolger’s hearing.
“To say that you were helping me and trying to save my life? I was there to help the dog,” Sandy Fleischer said. “I can’t believe they are using me for the defense.”
In an interview Thursday on WBAL Radio’s C4 Show, Fleischer said she was upset that the fact she was pregnant — something she confided only to the paramedic treating her — had made its way to police and into the courtroom.
Fleischer was nipped by the dog as she tried to get a look at her collar, so she could get in touch with the dog’s owner.
When she first recounted the incident on the radio show, months ago, Fleischer said the officers who first arrived on the scene used sticks to try and corral the dog, which only served to intensify the situation. She said officers calling the dog a pit bull.
She said police had her ushered to the ambulance “because they didn’t want me seeing the dog being killed.”
A second officer, Thomas Schmidt, 53, is accused of holding the dog down while Bolger cut her throat and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.
The judge, while declining to immediately grant the request for a dismissal requested by Bolger’s attorneys, didn’t rule out further arguments and consideration of the motion.
Bolger’s trial date is scheduled for Nov. 7.
(Photo: Ian Duncan / Baltimore Sun)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, baltimore, bite, bitten, court, cut, dog, dogs, hearing, hero, jeffrey bolger, killed, knife, law enforcement, nala, not guilty, officer, plea, police, pregnant, rabies, sharpei, slit, thomas schmidt, throat, trial, woman
“We have no words to describe this. To say that we are appalled at this allegation is an understatement,” Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said.
Police were called Saturday morning to Grundy Street in southeast Baltimore for a report of a stray dog that had bitten someone trying to rescue it.
Police had secured the dog using a catch pole, but after that Bolger, an officer assigned to the emergency services division, used a knife to cut the dog’s throat, police said.
“Unfortunately, at some point after the dog was contained, one of our officers used a knife and cut the dog’s throat. This is outrageous and unacceptable breach of our protocol,” Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere said.
WJZ in Baltimore reported that charging documents quote Bolger as saying, “I’m going to gut this thing.”
The dog later died.
Police officials said they knew of no reason for the officer to use such force on a dog that was already under control.
The dog had run off from her home nearby. She was a 7-year-old shar-pei named Nala, whose owner was searching for her and had posted her pictures on a community Facebook page.
“She was just the sweetest dog and would never hurt anyone,” Sarah Gossard told 11 News. “She was just scared that day and through all of those events — scared and lost, thirsty, hungry — yes I’m very sure that she bit someone, but the actions after that were not OK,” the dog’s owner,
Bolger been suspended without pay.
“I don’t want him to have his job, I don’t want him to be able to go out on calls and react like that to a person, to a dog, to anything. That’s not OK, that’s not OK,” Gossard said.
An investigation into the incident will also look at other officers who, though aware of what happened, had not reported it,.
Police commanders said they “caught wind of it Monday” — two days after Nala was killed.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, arrested, baltimore, charged, city, contained, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, i'm going to gut this thing, investigation, jeffrey bolger, knife, law enforcement, nala, officer, pets, police, sarah gossard, shar-pei, sharpei, slit, throat
Here’s a handy tip to keep dogs from doing their business in those sidewalk tree wells — one that works better than bricks, better than fences, and is all but guaranteed to keep those disease-carrying beasts from tainting our otherwise pristine urban tree life:
Take cuttings from thorny plants, like rose bushes, and spread them around the tree.
It may sound like a tip from Satan’s Helpful Household Hints (not a real book, to our knowledge). But it’s actually the advice offered by a Baltimore neighborhood association bedeviled by dog poop that’s not getting picked up.
The advice came in the January newsletter of the Fells Prospect Community Association.
“… You can make it clear that you don’t want pets approaching by planting thorny plants (roses, bayberry), or covering your tree pit with pine cones or cuttings from thorny plants that are uncomfortable for dogs to walk on. A sign will also encourage some people to move their dog to the next house.”
Of course moving on to the next house isn’t really the answer — is it? — unless dog and walker keep doing so until they are outside the boundaries of Fells Prospect, a neighborhood near Fells Point and Butcher Hill. Even then, the problem isn’t over. It has just moved somewhere else.
Even if every single resident of Fells Prospect adopted a tree well, nurturing it and the tree it contained (be it a live one or a dead one), even if they filled said well with thorns, lead paint chips, discarded hypodermic needles and perhaps a few strands of barbed wire, that’s all — other than some canine and human casualties — that would be achieved.
This is a hardly a new issue. In big and densely packed cities, there are few options when it comes to dogs relieving themselves. Everything is so paved over that a tiny patch of turf or dirt surrounding a tree is the only place for dogs to go. So dogs go there. Responsible dog owners, at least, pick it up. But some dog owners, like some community association officials, are thoughtless and uncaring.
So the tired old battle wages on — escalating to levels that could involve bloodshed — when, if everyone would just pick up their dog’s feces, it could finally shut the whiners up, or at least most of them.
Setting booby traps that puncture and maim is not the answer.
It’s generally accepted that the best route is education, perhaps along with some enforcement of the law that threatens $1,000 fines for unscooped poop.
It’s generally true that a tree well that is well-maintained, with a healthy tree, and some flowers around it, will be avoided, if not by the dog, at least by their walker. Ace and I always tried to steer around those when we lived in Baltimore. Sure, we’d come across dog poop on the sidewalk from time to time — just as we’d come across rats, both dead and alive, dirty needles and used condoms, and once in my backyard, a buried handgun.
Baltimore has bigger problems than dog poop. That’s not to say unscooped dog poop shouldn’t be addressed, only that it makes sense to do so with some perspective, in a reasonable matter that doesn’t involve installing weapons of mass destruction.
Alisa Peters, owner of You Silly Dog, was one of those that expressed concern about the community association’s advice: “It’s going to be uncomfortable and/or painful for the dog,” she told the Baltimore Sun. “Why are we punishing the dog? It’s not the dog’s fault.”
Veterinarian Gregory Burbelo, owner of the Boston Street Animal Hospital, which advertises in the newsletter, told The Sun he plans to ask the association to retract its comments.
“It’s sort of trickery,” he said. “It hurts the dog but doesn’t serve as a warning to the owner to keep the dog out.” While a dog may have a fair chance avoiding a thorny bush planted in a tree well, sharp clippings spread across the ground could go unseen and lead to injuries.
Officials of the Fells Prospect Community Association declined to comment to The Sun, including Phyllis Fung, who co-founded Cut the Crap Baltimore last year to combat dog waste in the neighborhood. She’s the association’s secretary.
Making the issue even more thorny is the fact that residents don’t own the sidewalks, or the tree wells within those sidewalks, so they lack the right to install booby traps in the first place.
Worse yet, any such traps could injure not just dogs whose owners are scofflaws, but those belonging to law-abiding, poop-scooping owners as well.
“We’re ignoring the fact that we’re attempting to punish 100 percent of the animals for the issues of 10 percent of owners who are irresponsible,” dog owner and neighborhood resident John Lam told the newspaper.
“I’m hoping people will ignore [the suggestions]. There are are a lot of homeowners who think they own their tree pits and don’t realize they’re in the public right-of-way. I have a big concern that people will start putting stuff in the tree pits to hurt dogs.”
(Top photo by Gail Langellotto; graphic from Cut the Crap Baltimore)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advice, animals, baltimore, booby trap, city, clippings, community association, dog poop, dogs, feces, fells prospect, hazards, inhumane, living, newsletter, pets, pine cones, poop, scoop, sidewalks, solutions, suggestion, thorns, thorny, tip, urban