Case Snapshot
Case ID: 13637
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Saturday, Nov 24, 2007

County: Douglas

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Sabrina Lohr

A 40-year-old Genoa woman was ordered Thursday [April 17, 2008] to serve two days in Douglas County Jail after she was convicted of abandoning a Great Dane mix on Pinenut Road, resulting in the dog's death when he was struck by a vehicle.

Sabrina Lohr testified for about 45 minutes during her trial, claiming that Rocket escaped from her car when she stopped to make a cell phone call to her parents and left the door open.

She denied that she abandoned the animal whose body was discovered the day after Thanksgiving, 10 days after Lohr tried to leave him at the Douglas County animal shelter because she was leaving Nov. 14 for a trip to Spain.

"I never intended for Rocket to get out of the vehicle. I never intended to dump him. I did not dump him," she told acting Judge Richard Glasson.

Glasson heard three hours of testimony before finding Lohr guilty of abandonment and not guilty of cruelty to animals. A charge of dog-at-large was dismissed.

Lorayn Walser, president of Dogtown Canine Rescue, wept as she testified about caring for Rocket before he was adopted by Lohr in June 2007.

In a victim impact statement near the end of the hearing, Walser called the incident "a tragic death of an unwanted dog."

She said when she received a voice mail message from Lohr in November that said she no longer wanted Rocket, "an alarm went off in my head."

"I ask myself how will he be treated until I can go and pick him up?" Walser said.

She said the fact that Rocket was still wearing his Dogtown collar and tag when his body was discovered was significant.

"She had never taken ownership. Adopting a dog is a lifetime commitment and responsibility," Walser said. "I had Rocket for nine months. We had 23 dogs (at the shelter) he got along with. He had issues from being moved around, but we were working on them.

"Animals are disposable in our society. Rocket was inconvenient. Dumping him was an easy way for somebody else to find him."

Lohr testified that she loved Rocket, but he became increasingly aggressive toward her Rottweiler Spike. She said both dogs slept in her bed every night, but Spike started sleeping on the floor because of Rocket's behavior.

She said she tried to turn Rocket in at the Douglas County animal shelter, but was turned away because the facility was full. Lohr said she had made arrangements for Spike's care during her Spain trip, and decided to leave Rocket at the same house as a last resort.

Lohr said she looked for Rocket for 45 minutes to an hour after he jumped out of her car.

Kennel maintenance assistant Joan Gomez said Lohr showed up shortly after the shelter opened on Nov. 14 with Rocket and wanted to leave the dog.

Gomez said the shelter was full and she told Lohr she needed to make arrangements earlier.

"She was upset with me. She turned around, grabbed the dog and made a little comment to herself, 'I'm going to dump him,'" Gomez said.

Animal control officer Janet Duzan said she spotted a dog that matched Rocket's description on her way to work. When she heard the employees' account of what happened, she went out to look for Rocket and came within 10 feet of him.

"I pulled up alongside him and called his name. He looked at me and took off," Duzan said.

For the next several days, shelter staff and volunteers tried to entice Rocket with food and water, but he did not respond.

John Respess, who was supervisor of the county's animal care and services department, testified he found Rocket's body by the side of the Pinenut Road on Nov. 23.

Walser claimed Rocket's body and had him cremated.

Lohr's friends testified that she was devoted to her pets and would never abuse them.

Gilles LaGourgue of Genoa said he's known Lohr for more than 32 years.

"I have never seen her mistreat an animal," LaGourgue said." She is the only person I would allow to care for my dog. She loves her dog like I love my dog,."

LaGourgue said he couldn't picture Lohr doing any of the things of which she was accused.

When she learned Rocket was dead, "she was crying about it. She was going crazy about it," LaGourgue said.

"She was so sad. She couldn't control herself. She was crying, very emotional," he said.

Lohr described herself as an animal lover.

"I love my animals more than just about anything else in my life," she said.

Her lawyer, Tod Young, pointed out that Lohr included the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in her will, drawn up in 2000.

Lohr cried when prosecutor Kris Brown showed pictures of her on a camping trip with Rocket and Spike.

"I have my arms around Rocket. I loved Rocket just as much as I loved Spike," she said.

Lohr was ordered to serve her two-day jail sentence beginning Friday.

Glasson also fined her $1,132 and ordered her to perform 50 hours of community service at the Douglas County Senior Center.

"I am sorry. I would have never done any sort of abandonment. I didn't do anything malicious. I didn't intend for this to ever happen," she said.

Glasson said it wouldn't be appropriate to order Lohr to give up Spike.

"I believe the defendant's testimony that Spike is her 'one and only,'" Glasson said.

Brown said she hoped the conviction would set an example to the community that dumping dogs at the animal shelter won't be tolerated.

"The shelter will work with people if you give them the time," Brown said.

References


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