Owner of emaciated dog denies animal cruelty charges

Posted at 3:56 PM, Sep 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-28 17:56:09-04

HAMILTON, Ohio -- Butler County authorities rescued a malnourished dog Monday and charged the owners Tuesday, Sheriff Richard Jones announced.

Workers at an East Street liquor store reported finding the dog, a male pit bull between 9 and 12 years old, Monday afternoon.

"It just broke my heart to see a dog so bad off like he was, and I felt like he needed help and if I wouldn't do it, who would?" said Jennifer Richey, who found the dog.

Richey fed the dog, who they're calling Duke, Slim Jims and water while waiting for the dog warden.

"I was disturbed by the condition this animal was in," Deputy Warden Kurt Merbs said. "I have seen a lot of animals in a poor state due to lack of care, but I don't know how this one was still alive."

Duke is being cared for at the West Side Animal Clinic. Jones said they still weren't sure if the dog would survive.

"This is one of the worst cases I have seen of neglect and cruelty," Jones said.

Dr. Sara Horton, owner of West Side Animal Clinic, said this was probably the worse case she has seen. Duke was half of what he should weigh, and she estimated he had been that way for at least several months.

"I have never seen a dog this emaciated ... I have never seen a dog in this condition," Horton said.

Authorities found the dog's owners Tuesday, according to Jones. They charged 34-year-old Jessica North and her fiance, 31-year-old Christopher Sears, with cruelty to a companion animal and failure to license.


North said she had just taken the dog in a couple months ago. He was in the same condition when she started caring for him and she had hoped to help him recover, she said.

She said she was trying to feed Duke different kinds of soft food and even puppy formula to gain weight, but he kept throwing up. She said she knew he needed a vet's care, but didn't have any money.

"I knew he needed it, but I just didn't know what to do," North said.

She said the dog got out of an open basement door.

If Duke recovers, he will be returned to Animal Friends Humane Society, according to Jones.

"Everyone is doing everything they can to save him," Jones said. "I will do whatever it takes to see that those responsible are held accountable for the condition this animal is in."