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 new documentary brings attention to an epidemic that really needs some — the shooting of dogs by police officers in America.
Anyone who reads this website knows it happens far too much — take Tuesday, for example — and often without good reason.
There are no firm statistics, but consider the estimates: The Department of Justice says about 10,000 dogs are shot by police officers every year.
And the number of police officers killed by dogs? None. Ever.
The documentary “Of Dogs and Men” takes a look at those alarming numbers, and what’s behind them, featuring many of the same cases we’ve reported here:
• Cisco, who was playing Frisbee with his owner in his Austin, Texas back yard when police at the wrong address for a domestic dispute call, shot and killed him.
• Payton and Chase, who were shot by police during a raid on a Maryland home – not only was their owner innocent of any charges, he is the town’s mayor.
• General Patton, who watched as his owners were handcuffed on the side of a Tennessee highway, completely innocent of any charges, and then killed as he exited the car, wagging his tail.
• Patches, a 12 pound Jack Russell terrier, who was shot by a 250-pound police officer who claimed to be in fear for his life.
“From SWAT raids to simple calls and even visits to wrong addresses, we are seeing more and more incidents of officers using lethal force against a family pet, despite the fact that no officer has ever been killed in the line of duty by a dog,” said director Michael Ozias. “We are hoping that this film compels more jurisdictions to follow the lead of states like Texas and Colorado that have taken steps to protect our law enforcement officers and our family dogs through increased awareness, proper training and effective policy.”
Of Dogs and Men, by Ozymandias Media, Inc., will premier Nov. 1 at the Austin Film Festival.
The film is being released in association with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).
“Use of deadly force is rarely justified in these types of cases,” said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “With better training, we are confident that we can put an end to these pointless killings,”
“Of Dogs and Men does an excellent job educating citizens on both the common facts of these heartbreaking cases and the surprising scope of the problem, while highlighting the tools citizens can employ to change outcomes for the better—from legislation requiring officer training in canine encounters to litigation under the federal civil rights act,” Wells added. “This film needed to be made and ALDF is proud to be a part of it.”
Some states are headed in the right direction.
Texas, where the problem is perhaps most severe, passed HB 593 in 2015, which requires mandatory canine encounter training for incoming Texas peace officers as well as those who seek advancement. The training helps officers who encounter dogs achieve safe and non-confrontational outcomes for both the officer and the dog.
The State of Colorado also enacted a statute that requires local law enforcement to undergo training to differentiate between threatening and non-threatening dog behaviors, and employ non-lethal means whenever possible.
Illinois has enacted similar legislation and other states are considering it as well.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 23rd, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aldf, animal legal defense fund, animals, documentary, dog, dogs, epidemic, killed, killing, law enforcement, of dogs and men, officers, pets, police, shooting, shot, statistics
Animal shelter breaks ins — one in Tennessee and another in California — have left four dogs dead and more than a dozen missing.
Three dogs were found dead Sunday – two in a bloodied Jurupa Valley animal shelter, and one on the side of the road – after an apparent break-in at the facility, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
And an East Tennessee animal shelter became the scene of a dogfight last week when a burglar broke in and placed a pit bull and a boxer, both up for adoption, in the same cage.
Shelter staff believe the two normally docile dogs were provoked into fighting by whoever broke in.
The boxer’s injuries were so severe that, after staff discovered him the next morning, he had to be put down.
Sharon Cravens, shelter president at Best Friends Sanctuary in Jamestown, said she believes someone hopped a fence, then unlocked the cage of a pit bull named Sam and placed him in a pen four cages away with a boxer named Bucky.
Volunteers left the shelter around 7 p.m. Thursday. When they returned Friday morning they find both dogs in the same kennel, covered in blood.
“It’s just sad to see that someone would be that evil and put two dogs to watch it for a show, you know, to put them through that,” Cravens told WBIR.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Jamestown Police Department at 931-879-5871.
Over the weekend, in Riverside County, California, shelter staff arrived to work Sunday morning to find a bloody scene.
“We found blood spatter everywhere,” animal control spokemsan John Welsh said. “There were some blood markings that were about 3 feet off the ground. We don’t know exactly what caused that, but we don’t suspect that an animal jumped into the air and caused that blood spatter.”
Two dogs were found dead of undetermined causes. They were described as a 5-year-old Chihuahua who had been recently brought to the shelter and a 6-year-old Yorkshire terrier mix that was brought in the previous night.
A necropsy was expected to determine the cause of their deaths.
About a mile from the shelter, the body of a third dog was located. It was described as an adult German shepherd, and Welsh said dog tags showed it had been from the Jurupa Valley shelter.
At least a dozen other dogs remained missing as of Sunday afternoon.
Several cut locks were placed in a pile inside the shelter, and investigators believe it had been broken into between Saturday night and Sunday morning, KTLA reported.
Some 22 kennels were “essentially busted open, probably with bolt cutters,” Welsh said.
Shelter employees were working with Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigators and reviewing surveillance footage.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 14th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, best friends sanctuary, bolt cutters, boxer, burglar, cage, california, dog, dogfight, dogs, dogs killed, jamestown, jurupa valley, kennel, killed, locks, pets, pit bull, riverside county, riverside county animal control, security, shelter, staged, tennessee
Dear Special Place in Hell:
I am writing in hopes of making a reservation for two or more Florida punks who haven’t been arrested yet, but probably will soon be.
I am sure you will agree that, despite what I am guessing to be their tender ages, they have already proven well worth spending eternity at your time-honored establishment.
Of course, once they are found, tried and convicted, they will likely spend some more time in this earthly realm before arriving at your most unpearly gates — at least several years, we’d hope, in one of Florida’s charming prison facilities.
But we wanted to make sure you would hold a place for them, as well.
If you require documentation of their acts, here is a brief account.
Last Friday, down in Pembroke Pines — in the state of Florida (I’m sure you’re familiar with it) — a woman named Verline Barthelemy let her 13-year-old Pomeranian, Mr. Fox, out in the yard while she was cooking.
When she went to let him back in, a few minutes later, he could not be found.
On Saturday, Barthelemy’s boyfriend found Mr. Fox’s body on the back porch along with a note that read, “We beat it 2 death. LOL! Hahaha!”
Barthelemy called police and took Mr. Fox’s body to a veterinarian, who confirmed the dog likely died from being repeatedly kicked. X-rays showed Mr. Fox had a dislocated spine, broken ribs and a broken jaw, among other injuries.
You can find all this information at Local 10 News.
We are sure you will agree these perpetrators deserve your lowest level suite — the one closest to the fire.
True, they have not yet been identified, but certainly local police authorities will be giving their all to track them down and bring them to justice. They’ve asked anyone with information to call police at 954-431-2200.
I don’t know if you guys compare notes or anything, but, just to let you know, we have also sent a request to your counterpart/nemesis/antithesis up in Heaven, asking him to ensure that justice comes swiftly.
Once that happens, we are happy to let our fine correctional facilities, and all they have to offer — hahaha, lol — take over.
After that though, when these heartless sadists come to an end of their natural lives and they show up at your front desk, we ask that you accommodate them in that most special wing of your special place in Hell.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 12th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrest, cruelty, dog, dogs, florida, hell, investigation, killed, letter, mr. fox, note, pembroke pines, pet, pets, pomeranian, prison, verlina barthelemy
Concerned and frightened residents of an Atlanta suburb have created a memorial to a pit bull found hanged from a bridge nearly two months ago.
They’ve covered the guardrail on the overpass with stuffed animals and reward signs in hopes the dog’s killer will be brought to justice.
Volunteers met at the bridge along Kelly Lake Road Saturday and attached hundreds of stuffed animals — mostly dogs — to the handrails.
Police in DeKalb County continue to investigate the case, and a $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to a suspect, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta.
A woman walking her 2-year-old son to day care found the dog hanging by a chain from the bridge on May 20.
Many residents believe the killer lives in their neighborhood.
“You don’t have to be a dog lover or even have pets to understand what a vicious crime this was committed right here across the street from where people live, right next door,” explained Johanna Falber, who organized the event.
Falber said the group has been posting reward signs on the bridge, but someone keeps removing them.
“It’s about a vicious killer that’s out here somewhere, that keeps ripping down our signs so they’re not caught,” Falbert said. “We want attention. We want this to stop. We want that dog killer found.”
Police described the dog as a brown and white, female pit bull.
Anyone with information about the dog or the crime can call the police tip line at 404-294-2645.
Another police dog has died after being left in a police vehicle — this time one in Alabama whose purpose wasn’t law enforcement, but “community engagement.”
Mason was left by his handler in a hot patrol car without its air conditioning turned on June 18, and died the next night.
His handler, Corporal Josh Coleman, said he forgot that he’d left Mason in the car after attending a hurricane preparation conference in Gulf Shores.
A city press release offered little explanation of how that happened.
“On Thursday, June 18th, while transitioning between duties, Mason’s handler Corporal Josh Coleman forgot that Mason was still in the back seat of his patrol car. On discovering Mason’s absence Cpl. Coleman located him in the vehicle.”
The press release gave no indication of how long Mason was left inside the car.
Al.com reports that the dog had entered the conference with Coleman, and had his picture taken at the event.
WISH-TV quoted a police sergeant as saying that Coleman left the dog in the car after the conference.
“He was going to take care of some paperwork in his office and he straight up forgot him,” says Woodruff. “Left him in the car.”
At some point, Coleman “discovered” him in the car. Mason was rushed to a local veterinarian, then transported to a vet in Penascola.
His condition seemed to be improving Friday morning, but died later in the evening.
The Gulf Shores Police Department acquired Mason on November 17, 2014, and had celebrated the dog’s third birthday on June 9.
While it was reported by some news outlets that Coleman would not face criminal charges, WISH reported the case will go to a grand jury. Coleman also faces “sanctions” from the police department and city.
According to the city press release, the department’s K-9′s usually travel in vehicles equipped with remote heat alarms, water bowls, and other protective measures.
“Because Mason’s duties did not include long periods in a vehicle, those protective measures were not available in his handler’s car,” it said.
The Gulf Shores Police Department might want to give that policy a second look — so its next “community relations” dog, if they get one, doesn’t turn into another public relations nightmare.
(Photo: Gulf Shores Police Department)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 24th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alabama, animals, car, community engagement, community relations, dead, dog, dogs, gulf shores, heat, heat deaths, K-9, killed, law enforcement, mason, patrol, pets, police, summer, vehicle
A man in a wheelchair who witnesses say was trying to save his dog was struck by a train and killed Friday.
Jim Boswell, an amputee who lived at a mobile home park in Wheatland, Calif., was said to be a quiet man in his 60’s, and a good friend to his dog, who was also killed.
Boswell had left his prosthetic leg at home and taken his wheelchair to a store down the road, his dog at his side.
“He had just come in,” said Rachel Sewell, an employee at Big Al’s Market. “We had literally just helped him less than five minutes before it happened.”
After he left the store, around 7:45 p.m., she and others in the neighborhood heard the squeal of train brakes.
While no one witnessed the accident, CBS 13 in Sacramento reported that they think the dog got away from Boswell who then tried to catch him before the train roared through.
Neighbors say Boswell and a female relative who acted as his caretaker had been living in the mobile home park a few months.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 23rd, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: accident, amputee, animals, california, death, dog, dogs, jim boswell, killed, one legged, pet, pets, saving, tracks, train, wheatland, wheelchair