Warden: Starved dog's owner changed her story

Posted at 12:08 PM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 19:53:15-05

HAMILTON, Ohio – The owner of a dog found starved and thrown away in a dumpster changed her story once the Butler County Sheriff's Office started investigating, officials said.

Katie Schmuck, 21, of Hamilton, first said she had sold the dog, according to deputy dog warden supervisor Kurt Merbs. Then she said the dog stopped eating for three weeks and she asked a friend to watch it for a week while she visited her mother.

The dog - a 1-year-old miniature pincher/retriever mix - died while she was away, she said.

The woman who made the gruesome discovery said she was taking out her trash in the apartment complex on Reflections Pointe when she noticed the dog cage in the dumpster.

"There was kind of a dog crate with a sheet thrown over it," Hali Kern told WCPO. "I was just throwing my trash out and I knocked the sheet over and it was just laying -- there was a dog just laying in there."

The cage was filled with bits of food, feces and urine.

 "It was pretty awful. I was pretty upset. Not OK to treat animals like that," Kern said.

The case has enraged Merbs and Sheriff Richard Jones, who called it one of the worst cases of animal neglect they have ever seen.

"They starved the dog and then just tossed it in the dumpster like a piece of trash," Merbs told WCPO.

After Kern called the dog warden, the dog's collar with the name "Charlie" on it and a phone number led them to Schmuck, Merbs said.

 "The first story was that she was at a random Speedway, overheard two random people saying, 'Man, I wish I had a dog', and she said, 'Oh, I have one' and they met her at her apartment and she gave them the dog," Merbs said.

Days later, the story changed. The dog stopped eating and she was going to be gone, so she asked 21-year-old Jacob Goodwin of Hamilton to care for it at her apartment.

"The story that we got now was the dog stopped eating three weeks ago. They never took it to the vet to find out why," Merbs said. "Then, she went to stay with her mother for a week and the gentleman was supposed to take care of the dog, and in a whole week's time he admitted that he had only been there three times to look after the dog, and each time it was just to give it food and water and be out the door again."

When WCPO's Tom McKee went to Schmuck's apartment, he was told no comment and threatened if he didn't leave. Schmuck's father, who gave his name as John, showed up later to say this:

"Our response at this time is no comment. That is all you are going to get from any of us."

He added:

"They feel terrible that the dog died, but is it their fault that the dog died? No comment."

Schmuck and Goodwin were charged with cruelty to a companion animal – a  misdemeanor. They are scheduled to appear in Hamilton Municipal Court on Feb. 24.

"This type of cruelty and just senselessness, I'll never understand it, but I'll never stop doing what I do because there's people out there that will always do this. I just don't know why," Merbs said.

The sheriff's office provided a photo of the dead dog, but editors decided to publish only a partial image after judging that the complete photo is too disturbing.

County veterinarians said a dog can only survive about a week without food and just three days without water.