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Emaciated dogs lead to cruelty charges

February 20, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown man was charged with several counts of animal cruelty Wednesday in connection with four emaciated dogs found on his property in August 2008.

Sonny Guy Norman Bowers, 43, of 1273 Fairchild Ave., faces 12 misdemeanor counts of abuse or neglect.

Bowers was being held Friday afternoon at the Washington County Detention Center on $20,000 bond.

Humane Society of Washington County officials were called in August 2008 for a report of dogs barking on property at 11035 Hickory School Road, where the dogs were kept.

A neighbor said he was scared of the dogs at that address.

Humane Society officials found on the property multiple outbuildings and junk vehicles. A dog started barking at them from inside one of the sheds, a Humane Society investigator wrote in charging documents.

Tenants living in a house on the property said three or four dogs lived there, and the owner came to bring them food about every two weeks.

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Inside one of the sheds on the property, a yellow lab mix was secured to the ceiling of the shed by a large chain, investigators alleged. There were two large metals bowls inside the shed, but both were empty. The floor was covered with feces and hair, and the dog looked thin, according to court documents.

There also was also an 8-foot-by-8-foot kennel on the property. Another dog, which appeared to be a shepherd, was chained with a heavy chain inside the kennel, and that dog also appeared thin, investigators wrote.

Humane Society officials returned to the property the next day.

A dog was loose on the property, was acting aggressively and tried to charge one of the investigators. The dog was taken to a veterinarian, who said the dog was emaciated and had a leg that seemed to have been broken and never tended. The dog, a shepherd, weighed 47.7 pounds when a healthy dog of that breed should weigh about 70 pounds, investigators wrote.

Humane Society investigators and sheriff's deputies returned that day, Aug. 8, 2008, with a search warrant.

Two dogs were removed from a shed on the property. Both were female Rottweiler mixes, and both appeared to be underweight. The shed was filthy, with feces and thick cobwebs throughout the building, and there was no food or water in the shed, investigators said.

Investigators also removed the yellow Lab mix female dog. That shed also was covered with feces and hair, and there was no food or water. The dog had been chained. They also took the Dutch Shepherd dog who had been found in the kennel on the property.

A veterinarian determined all of the dogs were emaciated and filthy, court documents show.

Blood work on one of the Rottweiler mixes showed the dog, which was dehydrated, had an infection. She weighed 28.6 pounds. A healthy female Rottweiler weighs between 70 and 95 pounds, the investigator wrote in charging documents.

The dogs' health greatly improved in two weeks with proper food and water, court documents show.

The dogs became the property of the Humane Society of Washington County, Executive Director Paul Miller said Friday afternoon.

At least some of the dogs have been adopted through the Humane Society, he said.

Bowers faces four counts of abuse or neglect, depriving an animal of necessary sustenance and other charges, for a total of 12 misdemeanor charges.

A Humane Society of Washington County spokeswoman said in a press release the maximum penalty for conviction of each charge is 90 days in jail and a fine not exceeding $1,000.

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