News Index > Apr-Sept '06 > Sept 2006
Veterinarian says Jake was abused

Saturday, September 16, 2006 � Time: 9:30:02 PM EST

Veterinarian says Jake was abused

By Mark Leberfinger, )

A veterinarian didn't hesitate when asked a question about a dog he treated Monday.

Based on his experience and to a reasonable degree of veterinary certainty, was Jake neglected or abused?

"Oh, yes. Yes. Definitely yes," Dr. Nour Hassane of the Veterinary Hospital of Altoona said Friday. "It was like somebody doesn't care about this dog or was very busy and didn't keep up with the dog."

The dog, called Jake by its owners and Doogie by the founder of a dog protection organization, is at the center of a criminal case.

The dog's owners have not been charged with a crime. Steve and Lori Arnold deny abusing or neglecting Jake. They say the 19-year-old German shepherd/black labrador mix suffered from arthritis and was given aspirin periodically for pain.

The only charges have been filed against Dogs Deserve Better founder Tammy Sneath Grimes. She is charged with stealing the dog. She has refused to give the dog back, police said.

Grimes says she took the dog to keep it from dying. It had laid on the ground for three days before Grimes came to Freedom Township at a neighbor's request.

Jake was dehydrated, malnourished and weak, Hassane said. The dog's spine and hips had deformities.

"You can see the skin but you can't feel the muscles. He couldn't stand on his four feet. I tried to help him stand on his back legs, but he would fall back down," Hassane said.

Freedom Township police have no evidence that the dog was abused; they haven't been able to see the dog, Police Chief John Reilly said.

"We probably could do something but it would be very hard to prove because I don't have the dog. I can't even get the medical records. We are basically at a standstill," Reilly said.

Neglect or abuse is at the heart of Pennsylvania' s cruelty to animals law. It is a summary offense punishable by a fine no more than $750, up to 90 days in jail or both.

Neglect is failure to provide necessary vet care, shelter, water or food, said Humane Officer Tina Walter of the Humane Society of Lackawanna County.

"In a neglect case, we usually have to give a warning unless the dog is in imminent danger. It's very difficult to fight in these cases unless we have a warning," Walter said.

In Jake's case, police and the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society say they had no abuse complaints about the dog before Monday's incident.

A neighbor says she called the society twice � Saturday and Monday � without results. A society spokesman said a complaint was received over the weekend but couldn't be substantiated because of a lack of a specific address.

Issuing warnings or citations isn't the normal first step in dog cases; educating the owner is.

"People may not know or understand what they need to do. Common sense is not so common. I had a woman whose dog was outside in 90-degree heat without shelter or water; she didn't think it was wrong," Humane Officer Joanne Smith of the Elk County Humane Society said.

Pennsylvania' s Dog Law does not cover abuse or neglect issues. The law's focus is on licensing, rabies vaccinations and kennels, state Agriculture Department spokesman Chris Ryder said.

"It's a local issue, a police or SPCA/humane society matter," Ryder said.

State dog wardens work with police or humane officers on neglect or abuse issues.

"But we don't have the authority to cite," Ryder said.

Mirror Staff Writer Mark Leberfinger is at 946-7462.


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