WOODBINE - On Dec. 21, in Middle Township Municipal Court, Woodbine resident Leroy Hutchinson pleaded guilty to an animal cruelty charge, regarding an incident which led to the death of his Pit Bull, Duke. The charge, which is N.J.S.A. 4:22-26a(3), states “a person who shall … cause the death of, or serious bodily injury to, a living animal or creature from a commission of any acts described in [the statute subsection],” according to a release.
The dog was previously seized May 17, by Shore Animal Control and an animal cruelty investigator for the Borough of Woodbine, Officer Holly Gavrilow. Gavrilow arrived on scene and noticed the dog was in clear danger of perishing in the sweltering heat. Gavrilow immediately called New Jersey State Police to assist in the seizure of the dog.
Gavrilow stated, “When I put the dog on a leash to walk back to transit, he could hardly walk without falling over, and as I returned to the transport vehicle, the dog fell over on his back and began urinating everywhere uncontrollably. There was blood coming from inside his mouth. I do believe this dog would not have survived much longer in the heat.”
The officers were doing their regular patrol of Woodbine during excessive heat periods, when they drove by the house and noticed the dog appeared to be in distress, with extreme panting, rapid heart rate, and very little water. The temperature outside was around 85 degrees around 1:30 pm. The dog, Duke, was tied to a pole in the ground with no shade accessible to the dog except for the doghouse, which was a plastic dog igloo. Inside the doghouse, the officers used a temperature gun which read 136.7 degrees.
Gavrilow, assisted by Officer Christy Mills, took Duke immediately to Parkway Veterinary Hospital, where he was given fluids and treatment. The dog was then transported to the Cape May County Animal Shelter once he was stable.
Lynise Murray, who was taking care of Duke at the time, was charged under N.J.S.A. 4:22-17a(4), which states, “It shall be unlawful to … fail, as the owner or as a person otherwise charged with the care of a living animal or creature, to provide the living animal or creature with necessary care.” Murray was also charged under N.J.S.A. 4:22-26a(3). Murray pleaded guilty to 4:22-26a(3), and was fined $500, a $33 court cost, and was made to pay restitution to the veterinary hospital for the treatment of Duke.
On June 16, Duke began coughing up fluid and was rushed to Parkway Veterinary Hospital where x-rays showed extreme heartworm. One lung was completely destroyed and the other lung was being destroyed.
The severity of the damage from heartworm disease could not save Duke. He was euthanized that day. He was 5-years-old, but the veterinarian stated that he had probably lived with heartworm disease most of his life.
Gavrilow pressed charges for failure to provide necessary care, with death or serious bodily injury resulting from that failure to provide necessary care.
Hutchinson must now pay a $500 fine, $33 in court costs, and restitution in the amount of $385.88 to the Cape May County Animal Shelter for the x-rays, heartworm tests, and euthanasia.
“We recently appointed Gavrilow as animal cruelty investigator for the borough and are taking animal neglect and cruelty issues very seriously,” stated Mayor William Pikolycky.