Published: Dec 18, 2012 07:36 PM
Modified: Dec 18, 2012 07:37 PM
DURHAM - A sheriff’s deputy who found a dead dog tied to a Durham man’s fence may have left two other emaciated dogs behind because the dogs did not appear in imminent danger of death, a spokesman said Monday.
In one of two cruelty cases in Durham last week, prosecutors charged Ishmael Kennedy, 32, on Friday, with felony animal cruelty for possibly starving one of his three dogs to death last month.
The two other dogs in Kennedy’s yard, a pit bull named Sheila and a cocker spaniel named Ruby, were poorly cared for and are no longer at the home. Kennedy told deputies he gave them to relatives rather than take them to the veterinarian as he had been ordered to do.
In cases like this, the Sheriff’s Office normally tries to persuade owners to voluntarily surrender their dogs, which most do, said Paul Sherwin, spokesman for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office,
Kennedy, however, refused to give up his dogs. In that case, officers can issue citations and check back to make sure the animals are receiving proper care.
Deputy W.L. Pinner arrived at Kennedy’s house at 514 Cecil St. on Nov. 12 to investigate a tip from a neighbor that two dogs were tied to a fence without food or water, one of them apparently dead. Kennedy told Pinner the dog had been dead for two days, and he was trying to nurse the other dogs back to health.
Results of a necropsy on the dead pit bull came back two weeks later and showed the dog died of starvation. The key difference in Kennedy’s and last week’s other cruelty case, one a felony and one a misdemeanor, is that Kennedy’s dog died.
“To be a felony under North Carolina law, you have to kill the animal,” Sherwin said. “It’s not enough just to make it suffer.”
When she arrived at Kennedy’s house, Pinner could see the ribs and spine of Sheila, the other pit bull tied to his fence, surrounded by feces. The dog had no shelter, food or water, for which Pinner issued citations.
Ruby, the cocker spaniel, was in a kennel on Kennedy’s back porch that was too small, with no food or water. Pinner could also see her ribs and spine and cited Kennedy for improper confinement, failure to provide food or water, and failure to vaccinate against rabies. She also ordered Kennedy to provide veterinary care within 24 hours for both dogs.
Pinner was out of the office Monday. Reading over the police report, Sherwin speculated that Kennedy’s dogs were probably not in as poor condition as Remy, the dog in last week’s other cruelty case.
That could explain why Pinner did not immediately seize the dogs when Kennedy would not hand them over.
Dogs are treated as property under North Carolina law, said animal control officer Lt. Brendan Hartigan, so they can typically only be taken against the owner’s will through a search warrant.
If an officer thinks an animal is in immediate danger of dying within hours or days, an officer can get an emergency injunction to seize the dog, Hartigan said.