Dec. 8th we reported an animal neglect case concerning two dogs left on a Brewer, Mo. property. Reports from witnesses say that dogs had not been cared for in several days and were in poor condition.
A concerned neighbor called Rough Road Rescue who visited the property along with a Perry County Sheriff’s Deputy, and found both dogs malnourished, dehydrated, and without proper shelter. Xavier the Boxer was already dead. The Labrador named Hershey showed signs of serious neglect.
When leaving the scene, Sheriff’s Deputy Brown instructed Steve Svehla, head of Rough Road Rescue, to take both dogs into custody. Svehla took the animals, gave Xavier a proper burial, and began caring for Hershey.
The investigation by Brown concluded that each dog was owned by separate individuals who both once resided at the property. The couple is believed to have vacated the property sometime before Thanksgiving and had only returned periodically to provide care for the animals. Witnesses say those periodic visits were days apart.
Carrie L. Statler of Perry County Missouri, the owner of the deceased Boxer (Xavier), was subsequently charged with misdemeanor animal neglect. She now faces possible incarceration and a fine not to exceed $500.00. (For a detailed explanation of Missouri Cruelty to Animals Statute, see below.)
Surprisingly the Sheriff’s department instructed Rough Road Rescue to return Hershey to his owner, Andrea Unterreiner (Gravil). Svehla protested, but bound by law, was forced to make the return. Unterreiner retrieved Hershey from the rescue on Dec. 12. No charges have yet been filed against Unterreiner.
People are questioning why law enforcement demanded the Lab be returned to its owner after having instructed Svehla's rescue to take custody of the dog. But according to the law, only if the animal was in imminent danger would the seizure, as it happened, be considered a lawful act. Imminent danger is defined by which the animal is in danger of dying before a warrant can be obtained. In order for Rough Road Rescue to have retained custody of Hershey, the deputy would have had to obtain a warrant to legally remove the dog from the property. Warrants normally take less than an hour to obtain. It's clear that the deputy in this case did not act in accordance with the law and subsequently caused the dog to be returned to a dangerous situation.
In the eyes of many, Ms. Statler is getting off lightly, even if convicted. Unterreiner is simply getting away with a horrible crime without even so much as a warning.
It is of great concern that Hershey will not be cared for any better now than he had been in the past. Rough Rough Rescue made every effort to convince Hershey’s owner to surrender him, but to no avail.
Deep concern from the public has generated a petition to have Hershey returned to Rough Road Rescue so that he can be brought back to health and be placed in a proper home. You can find the petition by clicking here. Concerned individuals are encouraged to sign the petition. As of this writing, 1250 signatures have been collected requesting that Hershey be returned to Rough Road Rescue.
No court date has yet been set for Statler. New information will be reported as it is received.
Missouri Cruelty to Animals Statute 578.009. Animal neglect--penalties--costs and expenses. 1. A person is guilty of animal neglect when he/she has custody or ownership or both of an animal and fails to provide adequate care or adequate control, which results in substantial harm to the animal. 2. A person is guilty of abandonment when he has knowingly abandoned an animal in any place without making provisions for its adequate care. 3. Animal neglect and abandonment is a class C misdemeanor upon first conviction and for each offense, punishable by imprisonment or a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars, or both, and a class B misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment or a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars, or both upon the second and all subsequent convictions. All fines and penalties for a first conviction of animal neglect or abandonment may be waived by the court provided that the person found guilty of animal neglect or abandonment shows that adequate, permanent remedies for the neglect or abandonment have been made.)