Defendant Pleads No Contest to Cruelty to Animals in Case Involving Removal of Dozens of Beagles from Lakewood HomeJanuary 06, 2023
Plea agreement allows defendant to enter diversion program with court oversight for five years, with terms including surrender of all 41 beagles
On Friday, January 6, the owner of 41 dogs taken from a home on Waterbury Avenue pled no contest to multiple counts of cruelty to animals in Lakewood Municipal Court. The case stems from a search warrant executed by the Lakewood Police Department on December 19, 2022, which resulted in the removal of dozens of beagles that were being kept in unsanitary conditions in the house. The Lakewood Building Department has declared the house to be uninhabitable.
As part of the plea, the defendant surrendered ownership of the dogs to the City of Lakewood and agreed to pay full restitution for the costs the City incurred while caring for the canines. He will enter a 5-year diversion program that requires him to undergo a mental health assessment and grief counseling to address underlying causes of his behavior. The defendant is also forbidden from possessing or having physical control or custody of any dogs during the period of diversion and must attend classes on the ethical treatment of animals. If he violates the terms of the diversion program, the defendant faces up to 18 months incarceration.
“By resolving the case in this manner, the City was able to secure no contest pleas to serious charges, which require the defendant to pay restitution and to comply with the terms of the diversion program structured to hold the defendant accountable, to prevent future offenses by him, and to deter such crimes in the community,” said Ernie Vargo, Law Director of the City.
“I want to thank our Animal Control Officers, Lakewood Police, and everyone on staff who pitched in to address this situation, to care for these unfortunate dogs, and to ultimately get them into a healthy situation,” said Lakewood Mayor Meghan F. George, who also serves as Safety Director. “Our prosecutors have done an excellent job of ensuring that the charges fit the offense, but also placing a priority on getting full custody of the dogs in an efficient manner so they can move on to better forever homes as soon as possible.”
The 41 beagles currently are being cared for by the Lakewood Animal Shelter, where each dog was provided with an emergency veterinarian assessment and subsequent care. With full ownership now vested in the City, the team at the Animal Shelter will begin working with its professional network to find healthy permanent homes for the beagles, explained Elaine Hearn, Supervisor of the Lakewood Animal Shelter. “We are happy that the court case is fully resolved, which allows us to get the dogs one step further to being stabilized in long-term, loving homes,” she said.
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