Authorities have dropped the charges filed against a veteran who was arrested after breaking a window to save a dog left inside a hot car in a shopping center parking lot.
Michael Hammons, 46, an Iraq War veteran who lives in Athens, Ga., used a leg support from his wife’s wheelchair to smash out the window of a Mustang.
At the insistence of the angry dog’s owner, who said she’d only let the dog alone for five minutes, Hammons was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.
Thousands subsequently came to his defense online and called Hammons a hero, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which announced last week it will be awarding Hammons its Compassionate Action Award.
PETA officials noted that temperatures inside a parked car can jump quickly to 100 to 120 degrees — even on a mild, 78-degree day like Saturday, May 9, when the incident took place.
A local Ford dealer in Athens offered to replace the broken window for free, WXIA in Atlanta reported.
Current Georgia law allows someone to break a window to save a person, but not an animal. Hammons arrest led to a call to change that law, as a handful of other states have.
“The laws need to be changed to protect the animals, not necessarily the people,” said Mark Martin, a pet store owner who rallied around Hammons’ cause. “We are the voices for the animals; they can’t speak for themselves.”
Ken Mauldin, district attorney for the Superior Court of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties, said the car’s owner agreed with his decision to drop the charges.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrested, Athens, broke, car, charged, charges dropped, criminal trespass, district attorney, dog, dogs, dropped, georgia, hot, inside, leg support, michael hammons, parked, parking lot, pets, rescue, safety, wheelchair, window
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
The CEO who was drummed out of his job after video surfaced of him mistreating a dog on an elevator has been charged with causing an animal distress.
Desmond Hague, who lost his job last year after the video went public, was head of Centerplate, the food service giant that contracts with stadiums across the country.
He was charged Friday with two civil violations of causing an animal distress. The charges were filed in Provincial Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the incident took place — inside a luxury downtown high rise on July 27, 2014.
He is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 24, according to U-T San Diego.
Conviction of the charges can carry fines up to $75,000 and two years imprisonment, but it’s considered unlikely that Hague will see any jail time.
The video showed Hague kicking the dog — a one-year-old Doberman pinscher — and jerking her off the ground by her leash.
Around the world, the widely shared video sparked anger among dog lovers and calls for the CEO to be immediately fired.
Hague, who had been walking the dog, named Sade, for a friend, issued a public apology. Centerplate, after its board initially stood behind Hague, placed him on probation and ordered him to take anger management classes, donate $100,000 to a nonprofit to assist abused animals and perform 1,000 hours of community service.
When all of that did little to quell the continuing public outrage, the company forced Hague to resign.
Sade was taken into protective custody, and has since been returned to her owner, said Lorie Chortyk of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Canada.
Hague is not permitted to see Sade under terms of the dog’s release back to her owner, Chortyk said.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 26th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, animals, arenas, british columbia, canada, centerplate, ceo, charged, cruelty, desmond hague, distress, dog, dogs, elevator, fired, food, pets, sade, service, sports, stadiums, surveillance, vancouver, video
A 9-month-old collie mix found last week in a garbage can in New Stanton, Pa., is now enjoying the things her former owner failed to provide — food, shelter and kindness among them.
She’s less frightened, spunkier and has gained 8 pounds since she was discovered by a garbage truck driver on his route on Oct. 30, with her head sticking out of a trash bag.
State police say the dog’s former owner, Nicole L. Baker, 50, of Hempfield, tortured the dog by withholding food for about six weeks before leaving the dog in the trash can on Oct. 27, when she moved to Texas to be with her boyfriend.
She has been charged with a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty and a summary count of disorderly conduct.
Police say text messages sent by Baker indicate her actions went beyond neglect.
“Yeah, I am a bad person,” Baker wrote in a text-message response to a relative’s inquiry about the dog, who she called Mia, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
“By reading through the messages and things of that nature, she had intentionally misled people that were offering to help when it came to taking care of Mia, the dog,” Trooper Stephen Limani said. “She acknowledged the fact that at some point in time, she realized what she was doing, she fully knew it was wrong, and still she put a dog, her dog, in a garbage can,”
Fawna was taken to the Humane Society of Westmoreland County and is now in foster care, TribLive.com reported.
“She’ll grab my hand with her mouth and play,” said veterinary technician Megan Fritz, who is fostering Fawna. “She’s finally starting to act like a dog.”
At first, Fawna was fed beef and rice every three to four hours, then graduated to lamb and rice dog food. She weighed 17 pounds when found, instead of a normal weight of about 50. She’s living with a Great Dane and three cats, and was recently taken on a shopping spree at Burton’s Total Pet in Greensburg, and went home with donated toys, sweaters and treats.
“She needs to feel safe and secure for a little while,” Fritz said. “I’m blown away by the amount of support and love that people are sending her way.”
Among those horrified by the dog’s condition was Baker’s daughter, Brittany Prinkey, who lives next door to the trailer where her mother lived before moving to Texas.
“I’m super upset with her. I just don’t understand how someone could do that,” Prinkey said in an interview with WTAE. ”I was so upset, I felt like I was going to throw up. I was so sick to my stomach about everything. I couldn’t believe it. That garbage can is right over there. I didn’t hear anything. No one heard anything. No one knew. It’s disgusting.”
Prinkey said she seldom sees her mother, and that the dog was healthy when she last saw her in July.
Prinkey said she has been subjected to harassment and threats since the dog was found. ”People have been throwing stuff at my house, at my car, threatening me, telling me I should die. I should be put in a trash bag and left to suffocate without food and water,” she said.
Humane Society officials said it will probably be two months before Fawna becomes eligible for adoption.
Donations to Fawna’s care can be mailed to the Westmoreland Humane Society: PO Box 1552, Greensburg, PA 15601.
(Photos: At top, State Trooper Steve Limani comforts Fawna at the Humane Society of Westmoreland County in Greensburg, by Steph Chambers / Trib Total Media; lower photo from Humane Society of Westmoreland County)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animal cruelty, animals, charged, collie, dog, dogs, emaciated, fawna, found, humane society, mia, mix, new stanton, nicole baker, pennsylvania, pets, pup, puppy, starvation, starved, trash can, westmoreland county
We’re not sure who gave Ryan Eddy Watenpaugh the minor shiner he sports in this mug shot.
But, assuming Watenpaugh really did what he is accused of doing, he deserves much worse, and — once he goes to trial, and if he gets convicted, of course — we hope he gets it.
The Shasta County, California, man is in custody for killing his girlfriend’s dog, then cooking the dog and feeding his girlfriend part of the remains — telling her it was a pork dish initially, then texting her that what she’d really eaten was her dog.
Police in Redding say Watenpaugh’s live-in girlfriend left him after a fight in August, leaving her Pomeranian, Bear, behind.
When she returned, in what appeared to be a reconciliation, Watenpaugh told her the dog had disappeared.
As a show of what appeared good faith, he made her dinner, then informed her — through text messages — that she had eaten her dog.
“It set all of us back when we read the text messages about the incident,” said a police sergeant. “The suspect asked her how Bear tasted … obviously referencing the meal he prepared for her.”
Police are still investigating, but they say a package Watenpaugh left for his ex last week lends credence to the claims he made in his messages. On Tuesday, the victim said Watenpaugh left a bag at her front door — inside of which were the paws of what she believed to be her dog, Action News reported.
Watenpaugh, 34, was arrested Thursday evening, booked into the Shasta County Jail and is being charged with domestic violence, stalking, animal cruelty and imprisonment.
“It’s sad, that if indeed the dog was killed as part of this incident, because dogs are innocent. All they want is affection and love,” Redding Police Sgt. Todd Cogle told NBC News on Friday. “For someone to take advantage of that innocence is obviously sad and depressing.”
Watenpaugh admitted to leaving Bear’s paws in front of his ex-girlfriend’s home, but denied anything to do with the dog’s apparent death, police said.
No other remains of the dog have been found.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 15th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruetly, animals, arrested, bear, california, charged, cooks, dog, dogs, eaten, ex girlfriend, feeds, girlfriend, humans, killed, messages, paws, pets, pomeranian, redding, relationships, ryan eddy watenpaugh, ryan watenpaugh, serves, shasta county, text
Jessica S. Skacel, 30, of Derry, and Ashley M. Giovannagelo, 22, of Greensburg, were charged with criminal conspiracy and theft, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported yesterday.
According to court documents, Skacel was hired as a caretaker for the sisters, now ages 85 and 83, in their home in Derry Township in 2011. Giovannagelo later assisted her in those duties.
Police say they started stealing from the sisters — both from their bank accounts and money the sisters had squirreled away in hiding places around the house — in early 2012.
Police began an investigation after a man who has power of attorney for the sisters noticed their bank accounts, both of which exceeded $100,000, ” were basically empty,” according to court documents.
“The bank records showed that both victims were making regular, large cash withdrawals from their accounts in amounts such as $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 and even $20,000 at a time,” an investigating officer stated.
Police say the money was used to cover travel expenses to dog shows. Skacel’s former husband, Kyle Squib, told police she purchased two trailers for more than $5,000 to transport dogs to shows.
Police say Skacel admitted to stealing an estimated $40,000-$50,000 from the sisters.
Skacel is a dog groomer and Giovannagelo shows dogs regularly, according to their Facebook pages.
Skacel and Giovannagelo were fired as caretakers for the sisters in September 2013, shortly after the investigation began, police said.
Both face preliminary hearings Sept. 3 before a district judge.
(Photo: Ashley Giovannagelo shows a St. Bernard at a dog show in a photo posted on her Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 31st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: Ashley Giovannagelo, caretakers, charged, competition, contests, derry, dog, dog show, dog shows, dogs, elderly, groomer, Jessica Skacel, pennsylvania, police, purebreds, sisters, st. bernard, theft
“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