Two Pennsylvania brothers who had 187 dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, seized from their property in July have pleaded guilty to two counts each of cruelty.
Thomas Ambrosia said he and his brother, Albert, pleaded guilty to “get this behind us,” and insisted they treated the dogs “like our boys and girls.”
Acting on tips, state dog wardens and state troopers executed a search warrant at a house in Benton, in Columbia County, last month and found the corpses of 30 Chihuahuas in a freezer. They seized 187 other dogs living there.
Authorities said the deceased dogs apparently died of natural causes. Veterinarians who checked the surviving Chihuahuas and two other dogs removed from the residence found only minor health issues, like eye, tooth and skin problems.
Pennsylvania law requires anyone who keeps, transfers or boards more than 25 dogs to obtain a kennel license and be inspected annually. Thomas Ambrosia, 57, said he and his 54-year-old brother had applied a kennel permit, but had been denied. They now have 10 dogs.
The brothers were fined more than $500 as part of their guilty pleas. One cruelty count involved neglect of a male coonhound with a sore on its leg, and the other involved a long-haired Chihuahua whose hair was badly matted.
At least one dozen shelters in Pennsylvania stepped in to help place the dogs.
(Photo: Some of the seized Chihuahuas; Pennyslvania Department of Agriculture)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ambrosia, animal cruelty, animals, Benton, brothers, chihuahuas, columbia county, guilty, hoarded, hoarders, hoarding, pennsylvania, pets, pleas
“60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan went to Afghanistan to report on brothers serving together in the U.S. Marines.
But apparently she fell in love while on assignment.
She completed her report, and it aired last night, with no mention of the behind the scenes romance — which saw Logan wrap a civilian named Bill into her arms and smuggle him past authorities. For that, you have to go to the 60 Minutes Overtime website.
There you will learn that Bill was a puppy
While working in the field, Logan and her producer Tom Anderson met a group of Marines from the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, who had taken in an orphaned puppy, near death when they found him.
“You know, everyone has this image of Marines as jarheads and door-kickers” said Logan. “But when we got to this patrol base, we saw these guys sitting around caring for Bill. I just watched for a little while, and it was very clear from the first moment that all these Marines loved this little dog. They were mad about him.”
It wasn’t long before Logan fell for Bill, too, and agreed to sneak him to an animal shelter in Kabul, where he could stay until one of the soldiers finalized his plan to take him back to the U.S.
With help from a bureau chief there, who harbored the pup for a while, the dog eventually made it to the shelter, where the love story came to a sad ending. Bill, it turned out, had parvo, and died.
Logan, fighting back tears, explains what happened next in the video above. The soldier decided to use the funds he’d raised to get Bill home to rescue another dog from the shelter, in Bill’s honor, and bring him back to the U.S.
Watch it until the end and you’ll see that’s exactly what happened.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 60 minutes, 60 minutes overtime, afghanistan, animals, assignment, bill, brothers, cbs, correspondent, dog, kabul, lara logan, love, marines, pets, puppy, rescue, serving, shelter, smuggled, soldiers, together, video, war
Closing arguments were made today and the jury deliberated for less than an hour before pronouncing the brothers not guilty of a crime that led the city to reexamine and strengthen its animal welfare laws and procedures.
Phoenix — the name the dog was given after her rescue — was euthanized days after she was found, on fire, by a Baltimore police officer.
The first trial for the Johnson brothers ended in a hung jury in February 2011.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein issued the following statement after the verdict:
“While I respect the jury’s decision, I am disappointed we didn’t achieve the outcome that we fought for during two challenging trials. Animal cruelty is a serious crime of violence, and those who commit it too frequently commit subsequent crimes of violence against humans. As we demonstrated in this case, we are dedicated to vigorously prosecuting individuals accused of this appalling offense.”
Defense attorneys for the Johnsons focused their defense on whether police mishandled the investigation and some of the evidence.
Craig Beyler, a fire protection engineer, called to the stand as an expert, testified that police mishandled clothing seized from the Johnsons’ South Baltimore home by mixing two pairs of jeans and a pair of sneakers in one bag. The clothing contained traces of an ignitable substance that could not be identified, but Beyler said it could have been a common chemical used in sneakers that might have transferred from the shoes to the jeans.
Prosecutors’ arguments linking the brothers to the burning centered mainly on a police surveillance video recorded from atop a pole near the crime scene.
No DNA, fingerprints or other forensic evidence connected the suspects to the crime.
A police sergeant identified the brothers in the video, in which two young men can be seen walking the dog minutes before the burning, and running away from the scene afterwards. A bystander, Tiera Goodman, told police soon after the incident she too saw the brothers run from the scene.
But Goodman refused to testify in the retrial. A video of her testimony from the first trial was played instead.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burned, burning, cruelty to animals, died, dogs, doused, euthanized, Gregg Bernstein, johnson, killed, not guilty, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, retrial, set on fire, torture, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, trial, verdict
Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill, who presided over the original trial, scheduled jury selection for Monday.
The original trial of the Travers and Tremayne Johnson on animal cruelty charges in February ended with a hung jury, and since then the case has been scheduled and postponed three times.
The twins are accused of dousing a young female pit bull with accelerant and setting her on fire on a West Baltimore street in May 2009.
A city police officer discovered the dog and put out the flames. Despite the efforts of veterinarians, the dog — dubbed Phoenix by rescue workers – was unable to recover. She was euthanized five days later.
The case made headlines across the country and let to the formation of an anti-animal abuse task force, which has since become a commission.
The Johnsons were first tried on animal cruelty charges in February, but after three days of deliberation, the 11 members voting to convict were unable to convince the lone holdout to cast a guilty vote.
The Baltimore Sun reports that Judge Fletcher-Hill plans to assemble a larger than normal pool of potential jurors because he expects many will have Thanksgiving plans, and others to have already formed strong opinions about the case based on all the publicity surrounding it.
Both brothers were arrested and charged with new crimes while out on bail in the Phoenix case.
Travers is charged with burglary and attempted murder from separate incidents in October of last year. Tremayne was charged with marijuana possession shortly after the first animal cruelty trial ended.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accelerant, animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, begins, brothers, burned, court, cruelty to animals, dogs, doused, hung jury, judge, jury selection, lawrence fletcher-hill, new trial, pet, phoenix, pit bull, set on fire, starts, travers and tremayne johnson, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, trial, twins
Now it’s scheduled for Nov. 18, which will be nearly two and a half years after the incident.
Attempts to save the young female pit bull, later named Phoenix, were unsuccessful and she died five days later.
Their first trial ended with a hung jury when jurors could not reach a unanimous decision. One juror believed the evidence presented didn’t prove they were guilty.
Prosecutors filed charges against the brothers again, and the new trial was scheduled for May, then postponed until September.
The case led to the creation of an anti-animal abuse task force by then-mayor Sheila Dixon. That task force has since become a city commission.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burned, cruelty to animals, dogs, fire, maryland, new trial, pets, phoenix, pit bull, torture, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, trial, twins
The first trial ended Monday in a hung jury.
The new trial is scheduled for May 4, ABC2 in Baltimore reported.
The announcement came after a series of meetings held by the prosecutor’s office this week.
The dog, named Phoenix, was doused with accelerant and set on fire in the summer of 2009 — an act that would make headlines across the country, lead to the formation of a citywide animal abuse task force and provoke outrage from animal welfare advocates.
The five-day trial came to a close Monday after the jurors deliberated for more than 20 hours over three days, but couldn’t agree on a verdict. One juror wasn’t convinced of the brothers’ guilt in the attack, according to news reports.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruetly, animal welfare, animals, baltimore, brothers, burning, courts, crime, dog, dogs, fire, hung jury, johnson, may 4, new trial, pets, phoenix, phoenix case, pit bull, pitbull, prosecutors, retrial, torture, travers, tremayne, trial, twins, violence
We can’t remember a week — at least not since 2007, when federal authorities raided 1915 Moonlight Road – that pit bulls have grabbed so many headlines … without even biting anyone.
Here in Baltimore, the week began with a pit bull parade, sponsored by B-More Dog and designed to improve the image and shatter the misconceptions about the breed — such as the one that they are innately inclined to inflict violence.
Those who ran into the pack of four-legged goodwill ambassadors at the Inner Harbor Sunday got a chance to see beyond the myths.
The very next day, a mistrial was declared in the case against twin brothers in Baltimore accused of setting a pit bull on fire in the summer of 2009. Phoenix, as the dog was dubbed, died five days later. The police investigation that followed, testimony at the trial indicated, was something less than thorough — likely, I think it’s safe to say, because the murder victim was a dog, and, in particular, a pit bull.
Jurors were unable to reach a decision, and a new trial is a possibility, but as of now, it appears the fatal burning of Phoenix will go unpunished. Despite that, she leaves a legacy.
“We waited almost two years for justice for Phoenix and though justice was not met for her, she became the change agent and public figure for animal abuse,” said Jennifer Brause, executive director of Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS). “Thousands of people offered their support on her behalf. Because of her, a Mayor’s Commission on Animal Abuse has been formed and the seriousness of animal abuse has been elevated to a national level.”
No dog, I will go out on a limb and educatedly guess, is more often the victim of abuse and neglect than the pit bull type — just as they are the most often maligned. Society, rather than simply label them as aggressive, and ban and muzzle them, needs to come to terms with the fact that, in those instances when they are violent, our fellow humans are responsible for it, training them to fight, attempting to breed for viciousness, and trying to turn their natural born tenacity into something mean and macho.
Which brings us, once again, to Bad Newz Kennels.
Down in Dallas, the adoptive parent of one of Michael Vick’s dogs confronted the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and offered him an opportunity to meet Mel, a shy and fearful pit bull who was apparently used as a bait dog at Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels.
The convicted dogfighting ring operator — in Dallas to receive the key to the city — declined, and his entourage shoved Mel’s new owner, local radio personality Richard Hunter, who captured the whole episode on his shaky camera, out of the way.
A few days after that, reports surfaced that Vick’s former estate on Moonlight Road, the Surry, Virginia, headquarters of Bad Newz Kennels, which has sat empty for three years, may be getting a new owner — Dog Deserves Better, a Pennsylvania-based dog rescue and advocacy group.
They hope to turn the former Vick mansion — where 51 dogs were seized by authorities and eight more were found dead and buried on the grounds — into a training and rehabilitation center for rescued dogs.
As usual, bringing up Michael Vick brings on lots of comments, on this blog and others, from his supporters — those who say “give it a rest,” those who say “he served his time,” those who say he’s a different person now who should be permitted to move beyond his besmirched reputation.
Be that as it may, I’m wondering when pit bulls — given they are regularly accused and punished without any trials, given that any violence they display has been instilled into them by humans, given that their bad reputation is mostly undeserved – will be afforded that same opportunity.
As a breed, they’ve done their time.
(Photo by Tim Quinn)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, aggression, animal abuse, animal welfare, animals, bad newz kennels, baltimore, baltimore animal rescue & care shelter, barcs, brothers, burned, burned dog, cruelty to animals, dogfighting, dogs, doused, fire, image, investigation, media, mel, michael vick, myths, news, parade, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, prosecution, richard hunter, stereotypes, trial, vick, vick dogs, violence
Jurors in the trial of the twin brothers Travers and Tremayne Johnson — accused of setting a pit bull known as “Phoenix” on fire in the summer of 2009 — will resume their deliberations Monday.
They were sent home Friday, unable to come to a consensus after a day and a half on whether Travers and Tremayne Johnson should be found guilty of the crime, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Twice on Friday, the jurors told Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill they were having trouble reaching a verdict. The judge urged them to continue deliberating.
“Do not hesitate to re-examine your view,” he said. “You should change your opinion if you are convinced you are wrong.”
The jury continued deliberating until about 6:30 p.m. before being excused for the weekend.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burned, burning, deliberations, dogs, fire, guilty, innocent, jury, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pitbull, set on fire, torture, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, trial, twins
A witness, bluntly acknowledging that she came forward only because an award was offered, said she saw Travers and Tremayne Johnson run “from the scene of the crime” seconds after a pit bull puppy was set on fire.
Tiera Goodman, who is jailed in an unrelated case, testified today in the twins’ trial in Baltimore on animal cruelty charges.
“I know what I saw, I just didn’t care until I seen the reward,” Goodman said, explaining why she waited six days before approaching police about the pit bull who was set on fire in the the summer of 2009.
Goodman stands to gain thousands of dollars in reward money that was collected after the dog, nicknamed “Phoenix,” after five days of suffering, was euthanized. About $28,000 in donations were taken in for the reward, which will be paid if there’s a conviction in the case, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Prosecutors today showed video from a city surveillance camera, showing the street scene minutes before the attack in late May.
As narrated in court by Sgt. Jarron Jackson, the video showed a man call the dog, then walk her over to two other men standing on the corner. While the footage is fuzzy, Jackson identified the two males as the Johnson brothers, based partly on their mannerisms, he said.
Jackson said the video shows Travers kicking the dog before taking her to an alley and disappearing from the camera’s view. Seven minutes later, the brothers ran out of the alley, and seconds later the burning dog appeared.
Goodman told the courtroom she left the scene when police arrived, and came forward only “because there was a reward. It’s posted all over the projects.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 31st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burned, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, doused, fire, gasoline, johnson, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pitbull, reward, testimony, tiera goodman, torture abuse, travers, tremayne, trial, twins, witness
Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill has ruled in favor of the prosecution on several important pre-trial motions in the case of Travers and Tremaine Johnson, twins charged with animal cruelty in the death of a pit bull who came to be known as Phoenix.
The judge ruled that a woman who identified the brothers to police can testify. In addition, he ruled that prosecutors may use a statement by Travers Johnson to police, as well as a city surveillance video.
The trial continues today, with more pretrial motions and jury selection, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The brothers are accused of putting gasoline on a pit bull puppy in May 2009, then setting her on fire. Burned over 95 percent of her body, the dog had to be euthanized days later when her organs failed.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burning, court, cruelty to animals, dogs, dousing, fire, gasoline, johnson, judge, motions, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pitbull, prosecution, rulings, travers, tremaine, trial, twins