GPD report: No indication of dog fighting in case of alleged cruelty to animals

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

A Griffin man – Courtney Montez Thomas, age 35 – has been charged with animal cruelty as the Griffin Police Department (GPD) is investigating the circumstances that resulted in one dog being euthanized and the placement of three others in the custody of Spalding County Animal Control.

The investigation began Saturday, March 16, when Maddie Jacobs reported her concerns regarding dogs at her neighbor’s house located at 508 Melton St.

“She (Jacobs) could see into the back yard of this location and seen multiple dogs, possibly four or five, in pens in the yard. One of the dogs had half of it’s muzzle missing exposing its teeth and gums,” reported GPD Officer Brittany Mullins. “Another dog, a puppy, looked malnourished with ribs, hip bones, and bones in feet showing. Maddie also had photographs of these animals on her cellphone and photographs of ropes hanging from a tree that appeared could be used for training dogs in fighting ( all).”

After speaking with Jacobs, officers requested the assistance of Animal Control to investigate the allegation of dog fighting.

Animal Control Officer White and GPD officers attempted to contact Thomas at his residence, but there was no response. Mullins reported that neighbors were told officers would return throughout the night, and they were asked to call back if they noticed the dog’s owner had returned home.

Just prior to 8 p.m., the GPD was notified that lights were on at the residence, but upon their return, the owner did not appear to be home.

However, Mullins reported that at that time, White advised he believed the dogs needed to be seized without delay.

As officers awaited the issuance of a search warrant, the residents of 108 Melton St. returned home.

“While standing by for the search warrant the residents of 108 Melton arrived and I made contact. I made contact with Courtney Thomas, the dog owner, who advised he did not fight his dogs and was trying to nurse the puppy back to health,” Mullins stated. “Courtney advised the dog with the face injury was from an altercation between his dog and another one of his dogs over food. He stated he did not take the dog to the veterinarian out of fear that they would try to stay he fought his dogs. Courtney stated the puppy in the back he had just picked up from a friend’s house that had been arrested. The puppy had been left outside on a chain and he went and got it to nurse it back to health (sic all).”

According to Mullins, the search of the residence did not support an allegation of dog fighting.

“During our search, we did not find any indication of dog fighting. We did observe a total of five dogs in the backyard. One dog was on a chain, one was on a chain in a pen, and the others were in pens,” Mullins stated. “All the dogs were kept separate. There appeared to be proper housing for all the dogs except one. This dog simply had a barrel to sleep in, not a dog house. There were bowls for water and food for each dog. There was no food in any of the bowls, but I did observe two large bags of dog food in the kitchen of the residence. There was water in all the bowls except the puppy’s bowl. The water was not clean water, but they had water to drink. I observed the ropes that the neighbor had shown pictures of. There were not what they appeared in the pictures. There was also a treadmill in the backyard, but it was broken (sic all).”

Mullins reported that due to the condition of the injury to one dog’s muzzle, Thomas was arrested.

A warrant was obtained Sunday charging him with cruelty to animals.

Spalding County Animal Control Director Brent Foster on Monday described the condition of the four seized dogs.

“Originally four were picked up and one, because of his condition, was put to sleep. Three are still in our custody…They are being evaluated right now. They aren’t skin and bones on the brink of dying or anything like that,” he said. “We volunteered our services to bring the animals to a vet and have them evaluated by a vet since the city of Griffin had not done that, so that’s what’s being done now.”

Of the dog that was euthanized, Foster said his injuries were extensive.

“Horrific,” Foster said. “He was missing half his face. From my understanding – I was not there when the animal was taken to the vet over the weekend – but from my understanding those wounds were three weeks old or older.”

Foster said the three remaining dogs will remain at the Animal Shelter for the immediate future.

“The plan at this point is for us to maintain custody until the city of Griffin does their charges and it goes to court,” he said. “That is the plan as of now that I’m aware of.”

Publisher’s note – In an effort to obtain the most recent information available, The GRIP made multiple attempts to contact Griffin Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Chris Wilson, including phone calls, email and text messaging, but he did not respond.

 

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