Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Starving dogs taken to animal shelter (TN)

This poor excuse for a human being should have to endure the same suffering she caused these dogs...Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008

PUTNAM COUNTY -- Fourteen pit bull dogs were taken to the Cookeville-Putnam County Animal Shelter Friday and their owner was arrested on charges of animal cruelty after the county's animal control officer found the dogs had been left with no food or water.

Stephine Schweitzer, 36, of Tom Lafever Road in Silver Point, has been charged with cruelty to animals, a class A misdemeanor. She has a Jan. 2 court date and bond was set at $13,000.

Cpl. Billy Hunter, the Putnam County animal control officer, investigated complaints of dogs being left with no food or water at 7314 Tom Lafever Rd.

Hunter said when he arrived at the residence, the dogs had no food or water and were kept in an area covered with mud and feces.

"I saw one dog bleeding from his head," Hunter said. "He was very thin and probably wouldn't have made it much longer. All of the dogs were very thin."

Hunter said the dogs were pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Witnesses stated no one had been to the residence in at least two weeks to feed or water the animals. The owner told Hunter she had last checked on the dogs Tuesday at 1 a.m.

"Whether it was two weeks or three days, that's too long," Hunter said.

Several of the animals had injuries, believed to be from fighting. Several had cuts, scrapes and bite marks. One had what appeared to be a broken leg. Another was suffering from what appeared to be a broken or injured jaw.

"One dog was so thin and weak, it could barely walk on its own," Hunter wrote in his report.

A veterinarian was called to examine some of the animals. According to the report, the veterinarian "stated the dog was almost to the point of death from the lack of food and water."

This was not Hunter's first visit to check on the animals. Over the past several months, Hunter had given Schweitzer oral and written warnings to provide food, water and shelter for the animals.

"She didn't heed any of those," Hunter told the Herald-Citizen.

The continuing lack of care, poor condition of the animals and cold weather were factors in Hunter deciding to seize the animals.

All of the dogs were taken to the animal shelter. Hunter said the one weak animal may not survive.

"The others should be all right with some TLC," Hunter said.

Catherine Lee, animal shelter director, said most of the dogs were eating well, though one was very weak and unable to eat on his own. She said they were all malnourished and had open wounds.

"They are eating well and we hope to get them back on their feet," Lee said.

Though the animals are being kept at the shelter, they are not available for adoption. Schweitzer has not surrendered ownership of the animals. Adoption would have to wait until she does so or a court order is obtained for surrender.

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