A year and a half after being convicted on animal cruelty charges, a former Warren, Ohio couple is once again getting attention after allegedly moving and leaving their animals behind, according to Thursday’s Titusville Herald.
In November 2012, Tiffany Charlton and Michael P. Kelley were charged with cruelty to animals after police found dead animals throughout their house and yard. Dead dogs were in the bedroom, living room and hallway. Dead cats were found outside. A total of five dead dogs and four dead cats were removed from the home.
In 2012, Charlton and Kelley each received a 45 day jail sentence along with five years of probation (to end December 20, 2017), according to Warren Municipal Court online records. Currently under Ohio law, most animal abuse cases are first-degree misdemeanors punishable with little or no jail time.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Charlton and Kelley moved from the trailer they were renting in Centerville, Pa. After their electricity was shut off due to non-payment of bills, the couple abandoned the property. They left behind dogs and cats inside the trailer.
According to the Herald, “Almost all of the windows at the trailer are covered up from inside. Dogs bark at anyone walking near the windows, pressing their noses and faces to cracked windows to get a glimpse outside.”
Kayla Hackett, granddaughter of the property owner, told the Herald someone does stop by occasionally to tend to the animals, however she was unable to enter the trailer since Charlton and Kelley changed the locks. While not knowing the temperament of the dogs, Hackett noted that her main concern was for the animals, and said she has contacted dozens of agencies for help.
On Thursday, Hope for Erie Animal Wellness, a community outreach program for owners and their pets, brought food, water and leashes for the dogs. They helped Hackett clean and let the animals outside. Reportedly the floors were covered in feces and there was no food or water in sight.
Under Pennsylvania law, the animals cannot be removed from the property without a visit from the police or humane officer, and a search warrant must be obtained.
Advocates of “Goddard’s Law,” which is currently being considered by Ohio legislature, can use this case as an example as to why stricter laws are so urgently needed in Ohio and other states which are lenient on animal abusers. And why laws need to be enforced. If Goddard’s Law passes, it will be a fifth-degree felony in Ohio to kill or injure a companion animal or to deprive one of food, water, or shelter.
Goddard’s Law is named after animal advocate and Fox 8 weatherman Dick Goddard. The Facebook page set up to campaign for and follow the progress of the proposed law, Ohio Alliance for Animal Cruelty Reform, currently has more than 20,000 ‘likes.’
Since the dogs are still in the trailer as of the date of this article, on their Facebook page, Hope for Erie Animal Wellness invites the community to "call the Crawford County HS and stress you(r) concern for these dogs... Please be mature and calm when calling but do stress your concern about their justice. As a community we need to rally together and start standing up for what is right!"
To follow Hope for Erie Animal Wellness on Facebook, click here.