Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chained-up pit bull dies in 100-degree heat


SHERIDAN, Ore. - A Sheridan woman was charged with animal neglect after Yamhill County Sheriff Deputies and Animal Control officers found her 3-year old pit bull, Zeus, dead in her yard.

Investigators said it was a 102 degrees outside on Monday when they went to Jeanette Bell's home on Monroe Street.

Deputies observed Zeus lying in vomit in a doghouse with a chain wound tightly around his neck, restricting him from access to water outside. Authorities also noted family members cooling off in an above-ground pool 30 feet from where Zeus apparently died.

Bell and her boyfriend, Chris Morris, claim Zeus was well cared for and given plenty of food and water daily.

"This ticket is wrong," said Morris. "The cops told me to keep him on a chain because he's a pit bull. I keep him on a chain. Now I'm getting a neglect ticket? This is (expletive deleted)."

The family believes Zeus was poisoned by a neighbor, given the blood they observed trickling from his nose as they buried him in a friend's backyard. However, they're not planning a necropsy to prove it.

Neighbor Beth Wolfe said she has fed Zeus scraps and reached over the fence to put pans of water out for him. "That's just torture, I think," she said, rolling her eyes at the idea that she poisoned Zeus. "I felt ashamed to think I didn't do something more for the dog and to let the dog die in this heat."

Authorities said they went to the home after receiving a call from a concerned neighbor. Yamhill County animal control has been to the home once before, on an unlicensed dog issue. Jeanette Bell has no prior animal neglect charges.

Hearing the details of the alleged incident, Andrea Kozil, co-founder of the non-profit organization Fences for Fido, said, "It just makes me want to scream to the whole world, please pay attention because we're suffering [in this heat] and they're suffering. They need water. They need a way to cool down, especially dogs that don't perspire."

In this case, Zeus was enclosed in the yard with a fence, but chained to his doghouse. Fences for Fido advocates against the chaining-up of family pets. The group builds fences at no-cost for dog owners who can't afford one, allowing dogs more freedom to roam in their yard and avoiding potential neglect. You can learn more about their organization at