By Kris Wernowski, Pensacola News Journal
A Pensacola man was sentenced to 18 months in state prison for starving a puppy to death.Charles Lee Johnson, 43, of Pensacola, pleaded no contest to an animal cruelty charge and two lesser misdemeanors in July.
Circuit Judge Nick Geeker handed down the sentence Wednesday, and Johnson remained in the Escambia County Jail on Friday awaiting transfer to a state prison.
An Escambia County deputy was dispatched to Johnson’s home in the 800 block of Lucerne Avenue on Dec. 18 for a report of three neglected dogs.
Animal Control and the deputy found an older, gray pit-bull mix and a puppy chained in the backyard. They also found a brown pit bull puppy dead and tethered to a chain.
The dogs did not have food or water, according to Johnson’s arrest report.
The Sheriff’s Office initially cited Johnson with a misdemeanors, but the charge was elevated to a third-degree felony animal cruelty charge and two misdemeanor counts.
Pensacola Dog Owners Association Vice President Lois Silberstein said she was pleased with the outcome of the case.
“We’re seeing, because of a public outcry, that the State Attorney’s Office is pursuing these cases and the judges are taking them seriously,” said Silberstein, who also is a member of the Junior Humane Society. “It’s a felony to starve a dog, and if you cannot adequately take care of your pet, you shouldn’t have one.”
Silberstein said great efforts have been made through her organizations to draw more attention to the seriousness of animal cruelty among law enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office.