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Thursday, Oct 31, 2002County: Bucks
Defendant/Suspect: Christopher George
Christopher George, a Bensalem truck driver, will be tried on charges he kicked three puppies to death and severely injured a fourth. He blamed his behavior on his former girlfriend.
George, 30, was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to the puppies named Noel, McCloud, Shamus and Bella - dogs that his then-girlfriend brought into their relationship over an eight-month period while they were living together on Bennett Place in Northampton.
In a statement police read Thursday at his preliminary hearing, Christopher George claimed he kicked the pets because he felt trapped in the relationship.
"I didn't want to confront her, so I kicked the dogs," said the statement that George penned to Northampton police.
"He has a problem with his emotions and his anger," District Justice H. Warren Hogeland said, thanking God that no children lived with the couple.
Detective George Kelly ruled out the ex-girlfriend as a suspect. She cooperated with authorities and directed police to the remains of Shamus, a boxer puppy who died from multiple injuries.
Defense lawyer Ellis Klein said none of the evidence proves that George abused the animals. He dismissed George's written statement as "forced."
Klien claims that none of the people who examined the puppies could say how the animals were injured, a point that Klein emphasized. The dogs could have been hit by a car or could have fallen down the stairs.
In Pennsylvia, animal cruelty is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum two-year prison sentence for each abused animal. That's hardly enough of a punishment, said Anne Irwin, the Bucks SPCA's executive director.
The organization supports changing the law so judges would have more leeway in granting tougher sentences.
George's case involves the relatively uncharted field of veterinary forensics.
The evidence includes the exhumed remains of Shamus, a boxer puppy that George allegedly buried on a New Jersey beach; also X-rays, autopsy photographs and testimony from veterinarians and a veterinary nurse. Absent from Thursday's proceedings, however, was testimony from George's ex-girfriend.
Klein called his ex-girlfriend a vindictive person who brought the charges against George because she was angry that he had broken off their relationship. Klein also said that George's statement to police doesn't prove he abused the dogs.
George's ex-girlfriend found Bella dead in her crate on Sept. 5, the day after the dog returned from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia. The hospital treated Bella for blood in her urine. Two weeks before, a local vet treated her broken bones.
George's ex-girlfriend states that she filed charges as soon as veterinarian spoke to her about Bella. She also states that she ended the relationship as soon as the vet confirmed that the injuries were a result of abuse.
Bella was the ex-girlfriend's third puppy to die from severe injuries. Noel, a female schnauzer, Shamus and Shamus' brother McCloud had also been treated for serious injuries. McCloud was so badly hurt that she agreed to put him up for adoption. He survived.
Court records and testimony from those who treated the dogs outlined the animals' injuries. All of them had fractures that were either new or healing.
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