WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC, DISTURBING PICTURES AND LANGUAGE ABOUT A DOG THAT EXPERIENCED SEVERE ABUSE AND NEGLECT.
The Centralia Chronicle reported that the 2 men charged with animal cruelty for the alleged abuse of a dog in Bucoda, WA pleaded not guilty in Thurston County Superior Court yesterday.
Robert Leatherman, 51, of Bucoda, the owner who allegedly abused the dog named Wolfy was charged with first degree animal cruelty allegedly starving, dehydrating, or suffocating an animal and causing “substantial and unjustifiable physical pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering.”
Jeffrey Gavin, 44, of Bucoda, the man Leatherman asked to kill Wolfy, is charged with second degree animal cruelty for “knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence inflict unnecessary suffering or pain upon an animal.”
I know that regardless of the mountain of evidence of an alleged crime the defendant will almost always plead not guilty, presumably to keep all of his/her legal options open like pleading guilty to a lesser charge to avoid a trial.
I hope no plea deal is offered to Leatherman and Gavin. The evidence against them is, in my opinion, irrefutable, and Leatherman told police he asked Gavin to “take Wolfy and put him down.”
He also admitted that Wolfy was “in horrible condition” and that friends had told him that Wolfy “needed to be put to sleep.”
The veterinarian who did Wolfy’s necropsy said the dog did not die instantaneously after Gavin shot him and that Wolfie “likely suffered painfully in death.”
He also reported that in his professional opinion “this patient suffered tremendously from chronic severe skin, oral, joint, and ear disease as well as neglect and starvation in life.”
Here are some of the specifics from the necropsy report about Wolfy’s condition when he was killed:
- The hair on the bottom half of his body was gone and much of the exposed skin was black and cracked, including the skin on his penis and testicles.
- Much of his skin had lesions and maggots.
- He had open lesions at the base of his tail and on his anus, which also had 2 raised, exposed tumors.
- He had no abdominal fat and only rocks and corn kernels in his stomach because he was starved.
- He had been shot at least once before.
One of the most infuriating things the vet wrote in his report was that none of the conditions were life-threatening and “could have been addressed by routine veterinary care, grooming, and an adequate diet.”
Like I said earlier, I’m not surprised that Leatherman and Galvin pleaded not guilty to the animal cruelty charges, but given the volume and quality of the evidence, I don’t see why the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office would offer them any type of plea deal.
If these men do get deal for a guilty plea a lesser charge or don’t get the maximum penalty for the crimes they committed if they are found guilty, Washington’s already weak animal cruelty laws will be rendered completely worthless.
Their next hearings were set for June 4, and trials are scheduled for July 22 in Thurston County Superior Court.