A Springfield man pleaded not guilty Friday at his arraignment on animal cruelty charges dating back to this past winter.
Calvin Stewart, 24, of 415 Catherine Ave., is charged with two counts of cruelty to a companion animal, one a first-degree misdemeanor and one a second-degree misdemeanor, for allegedly letting his dog starve and freeze to death.
“(Stewart) knowingly allowed (the dog) to suffer a slow, agonizing death resulting from not being provided with proper nutrition and shelter,” Northwood Veterinary Hospital associate veterinarian Jessica Brugler said her in report to the court.
“People don’t follow the old idea that if you can’t financially or emotionally care for animal you shouldn’t have one. You don’t’ need to have a dog,” said James Straley, executive director of the Humane Society serving Clark County.
The dog was a male pit bull about 2 years old and weighed approximately 35 pounds when it died, Brugler said.
A neighbor first alerted the Clark County Humane Society Dec. 26, saying that they had seen a dog lying on the ground not moving, covered in snow.
The caller noted that it had not snowed for at least three days.
“It can get extremely could very, very quickly and if your dog does not have shelter or a place to stay warm, then it can freeze to death,” Straley said. “And on days in July, August when people leave their dogs inside cars or outside without water, dogs can overheat in just minutes. So you just want to make sure you are taking care of your animal in the best way you can.”
A dog’s body condition is rated on a scale from 1 to 9 with 5 being the best. Brugler rated the dog at a 1, stating “there was no evidence of normal fatty tissue in the abdomen or surrounding organs such as the kidneys.”
“It takes just a lot of neglect. It takes people just not caring about these creatures they are supposed to be caring for,” Straley said.
Brugler also found nothing besides a dark watery fluid in the dog’s stomach and mouth, suggesting the animal only ate mud and dirt before its death.
If found guilty, Stewart could get six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for the first degree misdemeanor and 90 days in jail and a $750 fine for the other charge.
He is now seeking court-appointed counsel and will be back in court on Tuesday.
By Brian Bondus - Springfield News-Sun, Ohio (MCT)
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