3 dogs dead, 4 malnourished lead to charges for Butler County woman

Landlord said he called 911
Posted at 1:00 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-08 19:31:49-05

ST. CLAIR TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A landlord said he found three dogs dead but saved four others after his tenant moved out and left them behind in the severe cold without food, water and heat.

Tim Plageman said he went to his farm Sunday to get the rent from Melissa Damico and she had gone. Plageman said he found four pups in an unheated building. They were still alive but malnourished and sick.

He called 911.

"One of the dead dogs is in the chicken house with the door open. There's two more dead ones in the milk house," Plageman reported.

Melissa Damico (Photo by the Butler County Jail)

Plageman said there may have been extenuating circumstances that caused Damico to abandon the dogs.

"She's a dog lover and animal lover. She's not a bad person,” he said.  “I think due to some emotional problems that were going on in her family, I think she assigned someone to check on the dogs and they either didn't or didn't feed them or water them. I'm not sure."

Damico is in the Butler County jail facing felony charges of animal cruelty for the three dogs that died and misdemeanor charges for the four that lived.

Butler County Dog Warden Kurt Merbs confirmed that three dogs were found deceased due to neglect and cold weather, while four other dogs were found alive but severely malnourished, according to the Journal-News.

The four surviving pups are receiving care in a shelter but have a long road to recovery. Once the pups make a full recovery, they will be placed up for adoption.

Sheriff Richard K. Jones issued a statement saying he is “saddened that animals continue to be neglected when compassion and basic care is all an animal needs to survive.”