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Two Martinsburg residents charged with abusing pit bull

November 14, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Two Martinsburg residents are accused of abusing a pit bull that was found chained in the attic of a home with open wounds on its nose and mouth, which authorities said Friday had been duct taped shut to keep it from barking.

Randall Craig Siford Jr., 34, and Breshannon Leslie Deveraux, 33, both of 252 E. Burke St., were charged with felony counts of animal cruelty, according to police and Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

A $10,000 bond was set for each defendant in arraignment hearings Thursday night and Friday morning by Magistrate JoAnn Overington and Jim Humphrey, according to court records.

Witnesses told police that the dog had been beaten and deprived of food over a number of weeks, police said in a complaint filed with the court.

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"The dog was extremely skinny and had an open wound all the way around its snout and under its lower jaw," Martinsburg Police Department Patrolman W.A. Parks said in a complaint against the defendants.

The wound was about three quarters of an inch wide and loose skin was hanging from the snout of the dog, which had trouble standing and was visibly shaking, Parks said.

The police department and Berkeley County Animal Control officers investigated a report of animal cruelty Wednesday night at the East Burke Street residence and arrested the defendants Thursday. Siford was arrested after he was found hiding in the house, police said.

The dog's apparent neglect and abuse ranked among the "top five" cases of animal cruelty in the city, police said Friday.

All of the dog's ribs were "showing" and it is being treated for its injuries, which a veterinarian determined would require extensive medical treatment in order for the canine to recover some semblance of health, supervising animal control officer Donna McMahan said Friday.

A witness told police that Deveraux beat the dog and refused to feed the canine because she didn't want it to defecate in the home, according to Parks' complaint.

Another witness told police that she saw a chain wrapped around the dog's mouth so tight while it was being walked by Deveraux that the animal could not open its mouth, Parks said.

McMahan said the veterinarian determined that the dog had suffered from "strangulation of blood supply to (its) muzzle."

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