Dog Abuser gets 25 hours

One of the last photos of the Alexander pit bull.

WINNSBORO – A dog who had to be euthanized by a veterinarian in January after it was chained to a porch and starved to the point of death by its owner, had her day in court on Monday. However, the focus of the court proceedings was not on the dog or what happened to her but on concern for the perpetrator of the crime, Katera Alexander, 28, of Winnsboro.

“When she was arrested and went to the bond hearing, she was scared not only by the process, but scared in general,” Public Defender Bob Fitzsimmons told 7th Circuit Court Judge Grace Knie, referring to Alexander. While Alexander did not exhibit fear in the courtroom on Monday, Fitzsimmons told the judge, “She’s still frightened and scared now. I’ve assured her that the Dog abuser gets 25 hours No Expression of Remorse from Defendent court will treat her fairly and will be merciful,” Fitzsimmons said. And it was.

Charged with Ill Treatment of Animals, S.C. Code Section 47140 A – a non-violent misdemeanor, Alexander, could have been sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and a $100 – $1000 fine for her guilty plea. Instead, Knie handed Alexander a 90-day suspended sentence with a 90-day probation period and no fine.

“Special conditions of the probation are that she will have no ownership of animals and will serve 25 hours of community service,” Judge Knie said. According to 6th , the sentence does not prohibit Alexander from again owning a dog or another animal once the 90 probation has been served.

The judge specified that Alexander would not have to work out her community service at a dog shelter, but could spend the 25 hours working in a Good Samaritan House or food bank.

Neither the dog nor the crime was mentioned during the proceedings by the judge, Alexander or her public defender, Bob Fitzsimmons. There was no offer of remorse by the defendant or her attorney. The only reference to the dog at all was by Assistant Solicitor Riley Maxwell when he read the charge and summarized the arresting officer’s incident report at the beginning of the proceedings. No comments were made nor questions asked by the attorneys or the judge regarding the dog or the circumstances surrounding its mistreatment.

While the judge allowed Kathy Faulk, a board member of the Hoof & Paw Benevolent Society to address the court on behalf of the euthanized dog, she asked Faulk to limit to comments to 5 minutes, stating that, “technically, you were not a victim in this.”

“This dog, chained to a porch, possibly her entire life, was neglected and suffered needlessly while its owner allowed it to starve,” Faulk told the Court during her comments. “Starvation does not happen overnight and is a cruel, painful, slow death. Ms. Alexander had the option of relinquishing this dog to animal control at any time and chose not to.”

Faulk asked the Court to levy a sentence that would prohibit Alexander from owning animals in the future and that “reflects the egregious nature of the abuse suffered by this dog at the hands of its owner.”

Alexander’s attorney urged the Court to consider that his client is a single mother of two children – a daughter, 8, and a son, 10. He asked the judge to spare his client a jail sentence and probation, asking instead that she be given a fine that she could pay out over 90 days.

“She is working and could pay it off in 90 days,” Fitzsimmons told the judge. “That way we avoid clogging up probation and caseloads and avoid Ms. Alexander having to pay probation costs.”

The plight of the dog – a brown female pit bull, approximately three- to four years old – was discovered when a delivery driver found her chained to Alexander’s front porch in the 300 block of Forrest Hills Drive in Winnsboro on January 13, 2017. The driver notified the town’s Department of Public Safety, and an officer responded, finding the dog cowering under the front steps of the home and chained to the front porch, according to the incident report.

The dog was emaciated, the report states, with the outlines of vertebrae, ribs and hip bones pressing through the skin. An empty, turned over water bucket was on the porch. There was no food bowl available for the dog, the report states. Instead, there was a milk jug with a hole cut into the top sitting on the porch. Inside the jug, according to the report, was what appeared to be milk with a layer of grease floating on top.

When Alexander arrived home a short time later, the report states, she admitted the dog was hers and told the officer that the dog had been sick for more than a month and would not eat. The officer then produced a pack of crackers and offered them to the dog, who devoured them almost instantly. The dog quickly went through a second pack, “so it appeared to be very hungry,” the report states. The dog also lapped up a large amount of water when the officer filled her water bowl.

Alexander also told the officer that she had not taken the dog to a veterinarian “because she could not afford it,” the report states.

When the officer asked Alexander to show him the food she had been feeding the dog, she said she did not have any. She had only been feeding the animal table scraps, she said. She also claimed that the neighbors had been feeding the dog against her wishes.

Alexander agreed to allow Fairfield Animal Control to pick up the dog and take it to the Animal Shelter, but by the time the County took possession of the animal it was too late. The County euthanized the dog two days later.

Dr. Chappell’s report stated that the dog suffered from “obvious animal neglect,” and was “severely anemic” as a result of malnutrition.

“The dog was in dreadful condition,” Bob Innes, Director of Fairfield County Animal Control told The Voice. “We did all we could. We had the vet come out, we gave the dog medication. We gave her a blood transfusion – her blood count was in terrible shape. But in the end, we had to put her down. When an animal is that malnourished,” Innes said, “it affects the internal organs. We gave her medication, but there was no improvement. She was in just dreadful condition.”

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