Friday, July 16, 2010

Darlington man faces animal cruelty charge, nine dogs seized

By Jackie Torok, Morning News

A Darlington man is charged with animal endangerment after the city’s animal control officer found nine of his dogs malnourished and tethered with logging chains up to 2 inches in diameter.
It marks the fourth animal cruelty case reported in the Pee Dee within the past month.
Alfred Lee Dixon Jr., 37, of 107 Cotton St., Darlington, was arrested July 8, according to a Darlington Police Department incident report released Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
About 9:30 a.m. July 8, the city’s animal control officer, Merrel Sheffield, called police to the suspect’s residence after he was called there by one of the suspect’s neighbors. The suspect told both officers he’d been in New York for a week and returned to find his dogs in poor condition. Eight of the dogs were kept in the backyard, and the suspect said he’d asked his children to feed and water them while he was out of town.
Sheffield said it was clear to him the dogs “didn’t get like they were in a week’s time,” according to the report. All of the dogs were tethered to metal stakes in the ground with 1½- to 2-inch logging chains.
The “weight of the chains would cause issued to healthy dogs over time and the dogs were in a very malnourished state. The dogs’ ribs were all showing through their skin along with their spine,” according to the report. “All of the dogs appeared to have had open wounds on their body and seemed so fragile that they would strain to move.”
Each dog had a 5-gallon bucket of clean water and food, but the officers said it was likely placed there just before they arrived, according to the report.
A ninth dog was found inside the home and appeared to have been there for some time judging from the feces that covered the room, according to the report.
“The dog inside also had what appeared to be a wound on his left eye,” the report reads, “but (it) was hard to tell for he was fearful of officers.”
All of the dogs were photographed and taken to the county’s holding area for animals, according to the report. Their condition isn’t known.
Dixon has been released from the Darlington County Detention Center, but bond information wasn’t available.
In late June, Florence County Animal Control officials found a large black dog dead in a small transport crate after neighbors reported seeing the animal.
Charles Bell, of 705 Ventura Court in Florence, faces animal cruelty charges in connection with that case. He was not arrested, but is scheduled to appear in court July 23 at 10 a.m. to face the charges. Scotty Davis, director of community services in Florence, said Bell’s first offense came in 2008, when officials found two pit bulls in a cage with feces.
Other recent incidents of animal cruelty include the case of Timmonsville’s Doc Smith, who tethered four pit bulls with a 19-pound chain ordinarily used for towing vehicles and other large items. Smith was cited for cruelty to animals and fined $1,078. The dogs remain at the animal control center.
On July 7, Ronald Ball of Lake View went before a judge to face charges of felony cruelty to animals and discharge of a firearm with in city limits in connection with the shooting of Von Dutch, a 5-year-old yellow Labrador retriever. After two surgeries two weeks ago, Von Dutch is expected to fully recover.
To report animal cruelty in your area, call the Florence Area Humane Society at (843) 669-2921, or Anne Welch, guardian with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at (843) 665-6722, who will in turn notify Florence County Environmental Control Services at (843) 665-3053.

Update July 21, 2010 3:07pm - The following article is by Tonya Brown, WPDE:

Man facing animal cruelty charges requests jury trial

Darlington Police say a man who faces animal cruelty charges has requested a jury trial.
Two weeks ago, Darlington City Animal Control removed nine pit bulls from Alfred Dixon Jr.'s home.
Officers say the dogs were malnourished and tethered to a logging chain.
A date hasn't been set for Dixon's trial.
In the meantime, police say they want the Humane Society to house the animals.
Officers tell us if Dixon doesn't sign over the dogs, the city may have to get a court order.

Update July 27, 2010 11:19am - The following article is by Tonya Brown, WPDE:

Dogs seized in animal cruelty case euthanized

Darlington Police Chief Jay Cox says nine mixed pit bulls seized from a a home on Cotton Street have been euthanized.
Animal Control officers removed the dogs from the home three weeks ago.
An incident report says the dogs' ribs were showing, and they were tethered with heavy logging chains.
The owner of the animals, Alfred Dixon Junior, is charged with animal cruelty.  A date has not been set for his trial.
Chief Cox says Dixon signed the dogs over to the Darlington Police Department.
The animals were housed at the Darlington County Animal Shelter, where employees determined the pit bulls were not suitable candidates for adoption because of their physical condition and temperament.
Cox says for those reasons the animals had to be put down.

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