A dogfighting suspect awaiting trial was ordered Friday to help pay for the care of more than two dozen pit bulls seized from his property in Charlotte.
Lefonze Williams, 42, was ordered Friday to pay more than $13,000 to help feed and house 26 dogs and eight puppies, five of which are still being weaned by their mother, the Charlotte Observer reported.
If Williams doesn’t pay for the care of the animals — now being kept at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg animal shelter — his ownership will be forfeited, and the dogs, if unable to be adopted, will be euthanized.
During Friday’s hearing, Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Nathan Brooks told the judge that at least 11 of Williams’ dogs had injuries consistent with dogfighting, adding, “He has no business owning that many dogs… He’s not properly caring for them.”
Defense attorney Kevin Barnett said Williams could not afford to pay the fee, and asked the judge to allow the pit bulls to be returned to their owner.
“He loves his dogs,” Barnett told Superior Court Judge Hugh Lewis. Barnett said Williams is a not a dogfighter, just a dog breeder, and that some of his dogs were bought from Russia and Europe.
Judge Lewis noted the fee for the dogs’s care “seems large,” but said anyone who can pay to bring dogs to North Carolina from Russia should be able to afford it.
Prosecutors had asked permission to move the dogs out of the shelter and into a private kennel, and argued that Williams should be held responsible for paying for the care they would receive there.
Animal advocates have voiced concerns that the dogs seized from Williams — and 14 other pit bulls being held at the shelter in connection with another dogfighting bust — could lead to increased euthanization of the shelter’s other residents because of limited space.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeder, care, charlotte, courts, dog fighter, dog fighting, dogfighter, dogfighting, dogs, food, judge, lefonze williams, mecklenburg, order, pay, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, seized, shelter, trial
A hearing on the request to move the dogs out of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control’s shelter is scheduled for Friday.
Prosecutors want to place the dogs in a private kennel, which they say would be better equipped to provide long term care until the court case is resolved.
The dogs were seized two months ago in what local authorities described at the time as one of the largest dog-fighting operations they’d ever encountered.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say they found 27 pit bulls, tethers and a fighting arena in east Mecklenburg County, and they arrrested two men.
Lefonze Williams, 42, was indicted on 36 counts of dog fighting, and Melvin Smith, 46, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit dog fighting, according to the Charlotte Observer. Both were identified in court documents as the dogs’ owners.
Police said the property, near J.H. Gunn Elementary School, was used for training and fighting dogs.
Assistant District Attorney Glenn Cole says the city’s shelter “is not meant for long-term placement of animals, and seized canines may suffer behavioral and physical harm if maintained in this space.”
A court hearing on what to do with the pit bulls is set for Friday.
Prosecutors are also asking the judge to order Williams and Smith to pay for the cost of shelter, food and care, according to court documents.
If Williams and Smith decline to assume responsibility for the animals, prosecutors have asked that the dogs be forfeited. In that event, it would be up to the animal shelter to determine whether the dogs are suitable for adoption or will be euthanized.
(Photo: John D. Simmons / Charlotte Observer)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, care, charlotte, dog fighting, dogfighting, euthanasia, expense, forfeit, health, investigation, judge, kennel, mecklenburg county, moving, operation, ownership, permission, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, private, raid, responsibility, seized, shelter, well being
A Texas judge ruled yesterday that a dog who was missing her nose when she was found wandering in a field should not be returned to her original owners.
“I find that this dog was unreasonably deprived of care,” Hutto Municipal Judge Lucas Wilson said of the dog, named Victory by her rescuers.
Animal control officers initially believed she’d been the victim of abuse, but Victory’s owners, when they came forward to reclaim the dog, said she suffered from an autoimmune disease that ate her nose away.
The court ruling, which came after a four-hour hearing, means the bearded collie will remain in the care of Austin Pets Alive, which will place her in a new home.
Josh Fogelman, an attorney for the owners, Shawn and Candice Lance, said after the ruling that the owners took good care of the dog, who they called Olive, and never abused her.
“I believe this is a witch hunt,” he said after the ruling. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Fogelman was unsure whether the Lances would appeal the ruling.
Hutto police found the dog wandering in early January and took her to a local veterinarian. She was later placed in foster care by Austin Pets Alive, a local animal welfare organization that raised $15,000 in donations for her. Victory was scheduled to receive a skin graft, but that was canceled when her owners called police in February to reclaim the dog.
Shawn Lance, who recently moved from Amarillo, said he had taken the dog to a veterinarian there three times after her nose started to scar and lose color. The medicine the vet prescribed made the dog sick, though, so he took her off it, he testified.
Lance, a financial adviser for Edward Jones who said he worked for several years as a veterinary technician, testified that he and his wife tried to find the dog after she disappeared by putting up a missing poster at a community mailbox and calling an animal shelter.
He said that the dog lost her nose when he took her to a veterinarian.
No charges were filed against the Lances, but a judge was asked to intervene to determine whether Victory should be returned to them.
Judge Wilson said that Shawn Lance made an unreasonable decision to “wean her off of medication” and said veterinary records don’t indicate the dog, at the time of her last visit, had lost her nose.
“If you look at the veterinary records they say the nose is raw but still there,” he said.
While it’s possible the dog lost her nose to disease, the judge said, evidence indicated the pet was being deprived of proper care.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal control, animals, austin pets alive, autoimmune, bearded collie, care, denied, disease, dog, dogs, hutto, judge, lost, lucas wilson, neglect, no nose, nose, noseless, pets, proper, ruling, suspected, victory
“It was bad people who killed them,” 5-year-old Ethan Stalcup said after the bodies of his family’s two dogs were found, apparently killed with an axe.
“I don’t understand why anybody would do this,” his mother, Rose Stalcup, said in an interview. “It really hurts to know that we live in a world where people can be this cruel.”
Her husband, J.P. Stalcup, wondered what the killers might do next: “What happens if, you know, they do that a couple more times and all of the sudden they’re not happy with – it’s not giving them as much jollies as it was the first couple times …”
That was before Japheth (J.P.) Daniel Stalcup admitted to police that it was he who killed his dogs — because, he said, he couldn’t afford to take care of them.
Now, as Stalcup awaits trial on charges of aggravated animal abuse, KATU – the station that aired the earlier interviews with the family — reports Stalcup has another dog, despite a judge’s order prohibiting it.
One of the conditions Stalcup agreed to in order to be free from jail until the trial was ”no possession or living with any animals.”
Stalcup, of Eagle Creek, Oregon, initially reported his dogs — Duke, a black Lab, and Buddy, a Lab-blue heeler mix — missing last November. Two days later he reported to police that he had found their bodies, about 100 yards from the house. Stalcup told investigators the dogs appeared to have been hit with an axe several times. One of the dogs was tossed from a cliff, deputies said.
As the police investigation progressed, Stalcup eventually admitted to killing the dogs. His trial date is March 25.
Acting on a tip from a viewer, KATU visited his home on Monday, confirming the family had a new puppy.
J.P. Stalcup told a reporter that his lawyer had cleared it with a judge for him to have pets at home, but prosecutors were unaware of any such permission being granted.
(Photo: The Stalcup’s new puppy (at top) and one of their previous dogs, Duke / KATU)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 27th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, ax, axe, buddy, charges, condition, dogs, duke, eagle creek, heeler, investigation, jail, japheth stalcup, jp stalcup, judge, katu, killed, lab, news, no pets, order, oregon, pets, police, trial
Jordan Biggs, the Oregon State University student who found a dog on the loose in Portland, took him home, and refused to give him back to his owner, is on the verge of giving up her fight for custody of the husky mix she named Bear.
The Portland Oregonian reports that Biggs, – facing $30,000 worth of legal bills and a possible felony conviction — has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of second-degree theft, serve 80 hours of community service, and concede that the dog is not hers.
If she meets those conditions, the charge would be expunged from her record after six months, allowing the 20-year-old to continue with her plans to become a teacher.
Biggs was visiting Portland when she found the dog and took him home to Corvallis.
More than a year later, the dog’s original owner, Sam Hanson-Fleming, spotted Biggs and the dog he knew as Chase in Southeast Portland.
County animal control officials ruled that the dog belonged to Hanson-Fleming, who said his dog had jumped a fence and run away. But Biggs still refused to relinquish custody of the dog.
In July of last year, police in Corvallis seized the dog and charged Biggs with theft. Bear, or Chase, spent 75 days in a shelter after that — until a judge in October ordered the dog returned to Hanson-Fleming.
Biggs filed a lawsuit seeking to regain custody of the dog, who she trained to serve as an asthma therapy dog, alerting her to oncoming asthma attacks. As part of her plea agreement, the lawsuit would be dropped.
Both Biggs and Hanson-Fleming find the apparent outcome of the case less than acceptable.
“There is no way she should not have to have this on her record — she’s a thief,” Hanson-Fleming said. “It’s no different than if you went to Walmart and stole a bunch of shirts. … She should be treated like any other criminal.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agreement, animals, asthma, bear, chase, corvallis, courts, custody, deal, dispute, dog, dogs, found, husky, jordan biggs, judge, lost, mix, oregon, oregon state university, owner, pets, plea, portland, sam hanson-fleming, student, therapy
The battle over Obie is over, for the time being.
Under a judge’s ruling this week, the obese dachshund at the center of a custody dispute will stay put with his caretaker, Nora Vanatta, who garnered national attention when she put the obese dog on a diet.
But the case could still go to trial later in the year, KATU reported.
At a court hearing Monday morning, a judge said it’s legally unclear who owns the dachshund, whose previous owners clearly overfed him and eventually reached the point of being unable to care for him.
Obie was surrendered by his original owners to Oregon Dachshund Rescue. Through that organization, Vanatta became his foster mom. Later, after Obie had gained fame, the rescue organization’s owner Jenell Rangan, filed a lawsuit seeking custody of the dog.
She’d asked that Obie be turned over to her until a trial is held. The judge declined to do that, ruling that temporarily, at least, Obie remain with Vanatta.
The case will now go to arbitration, and, if that fails, on to a trial.
“We’re just really happy about the outcome of the case,” said James McCurdy, who represents Obie’s caretaker. “Like the judge indicated in the courtroom, it’s far from over and we understand that. We’re just really ecstatic Obie can stay in the fantastic situation he’s in.”
Oregon Dachshund Rescue originally heard the dog was in need of a home and put out an online plea for help. Vanatta offered to foster the dog, and an Oregon Dachshund Rescue volunteer picked up Obie from his former owners’ home and delivered him to Vanatta.
“He’s doing well here,” Vanatta says. “It just doesn’t make sense to take him away now.”
Rangan said she believes Obie belongs to her, and that Vanatta is not providing good care.
Vanatta disagrees and says Obie, who once weighed in at 77 pounds, has lost more than 15 pounds since being in her care.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, case, court, custody, dachshund, dog, dogs, foster, jenelle rangan, judge, lawsuit, nora vanatta, obese, obie, oregon dachshund rescue, pets, rescue, rescued, ruling
I’m not sure any dog owner can, with any degree of certainty, know what his dog is dreaming, or for that matter thinking, but the owner of this big fella imagines that he’s missing a friend.
The dog, named Judge, seems to still be looking for Eini, his much smaller buddy.
Dogs, whether or not they understand death, do seem to be affected by the absence of a friend, and they do seem to keep looking around in case they might reappear.
We could call it hope, or loyalty, or grief, but we’d only be attributing what are generally considered human emotions to them. We’d only be guessing.
It might be a pretty good guess, though.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, cognition, dog, dogs, dream, dreams, eini, emotions, grief, judge, judges dream, loss, loyalty, pets, video
An Oregon judge says an obese celebrity dachshund should remain in the custody of his foster mom until the courts can determine his legal owner.
That means Obie — and we’re guessing the 70-pound dog is fine with the interim ruling — will be staying put for now.
At a court hearing today, a judge decided that the dog will stay with Nora Vanatta, a veterinary technician who volunteered to foster him – and put him on a diet — when his owners decided they could no longer care for him.
The court hearing today — and it’s just a first step — resulted from a lawsuit filed by Oregon Dachshund Rescue owner Jenell Rangan, who claims that, since the foster arrangement was set up through the rescue, the dog is legally her’s.
Rangan’s lawsuit was filed after Obie and his diet garnered some fame — but she has said she filed it because she didn’t feel Obie was being taken care of properly.
“They say I’m exploiting him,” Vanatta told KATU. “They say I’m misusing his funds and they claim he belongs to them.”
She added, “He’s famous and he’s touched so many people and I think they regret not taking him on in the first place,” Vanatta said of the rescue group.
Oregon Daschund Rescue was asking that the dog be turned over to them until ownership is decided, but the judge declined.
KATU reports that the case will go to arbitration, and could still possibly result in a trial.
Vanatta says Obie has lost 15 pounds in the last two months.
She’s collected thousands of dollars in donations for Obie from supporters, and said the money is being used for his care.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 70 pounds, animals, battle, court, custody, dachshund, diet, dieting, dog, dogs, fat, hearing, jenell rangan, judge, lawsuit, nora vanatta, obese, obie, oregon, oregon dachshund rescue, overweight, ownership, pets
On top of the jail sentence, he was ordered to spend an additional six months on electronic home monitoring and pay the golden retriever’s veterinary bills, which amounted to $5,000, the Bellingham Herald reported.
The judge also banned Knowles from owning pets or having animals in his house.
At the sentencing, Knowles apologized to the dog’s owners, who since have moved out of state.
Deputy prosecuting attorney Dione Hauger said she asked for the maximum sentence “based on the brutality of the actual crime … on the thought and premeditation that went into it. And it was based on the fact that this was a fairly vulnerable victim.”
Knowles was arrested in March after police found the 3-year-old dog, named Kona, tied to a pole in his garage. Police said he lured Kona to his property with treats. The dog has since recovered from the injuries, which included a skull fracture and broken jaw.
Knowles had reportedly complained to Kona’s owner in the past about the dog’s barking.
At the sentencing, Knowles said the act wasn’t premeditated. “I just couldn’t take the noise any longer,” he said. “He was barking and I just snapped. I can’t explain it.” (Video from the hearing is included in this KBOI report.)
During a search of Knowles’ home, authorities found blood-splattered cutting tools, a hammer, a bloody garbage can and dog treats.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, attack, barking, court, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, golden retriever, hatchet, judge, kona, neighbor, one year, orting, pets, ricky lee knowles, sentence, washington, wire
An Ohio judge who called a man convicted of dogfighting “a monster” and sentenced him to six months in jail received a standing ovation Tuesday from a courtroom packed with animal welfare activists.
Judge Kathleen Ann Sutula sentenced Collin Rand Jr., 33, to six months in jail, five years community control, and more than $12,000 in fines, restitution and court costs, according to News Channel 5.
Additionally, the Cuyahoga County judge ordered that he never be allowed to own a dog again.
If Rand violates the sentence, the judge said she would send him to prison for more than 12 years.
“If I had the freedom and the discretion, you’d be serving a lot longer sentence, Mr. Rand. Much, much longer. In fact, probably like 27 years — a year for each dog,” the judge said.
Rand, as part of a plea agreement, pleaded guilty to six counts of dogfighting, four counts of cruelty to animals, one count of drug trafficking and one count of carrying a concealed weapon.
The activists applauded the judge, who sentenced Rand to the maximum amount allowed under current law. (House Bill 108 would make animal abuse a felony in Ohio and allow lengthier sentences.)
Activists in the crowd wore T-shirts with the phrase “Hope for the 27,” a reference to the number of dogs found tied up at Rand’s home on Dec. 22, 2011. The dogs were malnourished and had open wounds and scars. Officers also found a fighting ring and a treadmill with plywood sides to contain the dogs.
According to testimony, some of the dogs had spent their entire lives enclosed in small cages. Some needed immediate medical care and some had to be euthanized.
Rand had claimed the dogs were in bad condition when he found them, and that he was trying to find them new homes.
“I find your explanations and your statements to be totally incredible,” said Judge Sutula, who has a rescued dog. “They are not worthy of belief. No one with a heart could look at these animals and not get help … You are a monster, Mr. Rand.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, case, collin rand jr, county, cuyahoga, dogfighting, dogs, guilty, hb 108, hope for the 27, judge, kathleen ann sutula, law, maximum, monster, ohio, ovation, pets, plea, sentence, standing, video