Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18241
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Attorneys/Judges
Defense(s): Richard Samdperil
Judge(s): Sawako Gardner


For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.



Wednesday, Jul 13, 2011

County: Rockingham

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Matt McKeever

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

A Maine man was arrested Thursday on two counts of animal cruelty alleging he left two dogs in a parked car with an interior temperature of 106 degrees.

Police say Matt McKeever, 32, of 439 Market St., Portland, turned himself in on a warrant for the animal cruelty charges and was released on $500 personal recognizance bail. He's scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 15 in Portsmouth District Court.

Animal Control Officer Courtney Bacon said Thursday afternoon that the dogs were still in the care of a veterinarian. She declined to discuss specifics about the animals' welfare because the case is ongoing.

Bacon said one of the dogs is a Husky puppy and the other is an adult Shiba Inu.

Capt. Mike Schwartz said police were seeking a court order to gain temporary custody of the dogs at the request of the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Lt. Russell Russo said Wednesday that the dogs were in a car parked in the area of 111 Market St.

The owner of a nearby store, who asked not to be named, said the dogs' owner left the dogs in his red hatchback for 45 minutes. The store owner said he kept checking on the dogs, and after seeing the Shiba Inu paw at a closed water bottle, he placed a bowl of water in a bucket and lowered it into the car through a partially open window.

"When I got my arm in, I felt the heat," he said. "The police were already called and the puppy had gone from sitting lethargic, to laying prone on the driver's side floor."

He said he'd just read that it can take only 15 minutes for a dog to die in a hot car and decided "we have to do something." So he opened an unlocked car door and removed the dogs, as well as two leashes, he said.

The dogs were taken into an air-conditioned store until police arrived, said the business owner.

"You don't like to get involved, but when it came down to the lives of the dogs," he said, "well, that's what you do."


Case Updates

Charged with animal cruelty for leaving two dogs in a 106-degree car, Matt McKeever testified Thursday that the dogs "seemed fine" and if they hadn't been seized by the animal control officer, he would have driven them back to his Portland, Maine, home.

"I absolutely love those dogs," McKeever said during a second District Court hearing to debate whether he should lose permanent custody of his husky puppy and adult shiba inu.

The hearing was continued from Wednesday due to time constraints and a decision is not expected for at least two weeks due to court closures.

McKeever, 32, is charged with two counts of animal cruelty alleging that on July 13, he left the dogs in a hot car parked on Market Street for about 45 minutes. Animal Control Officer Courtney Bacon previously testified that after measuring the temperature in the car and observing the dogs, she seized and brought them to the N.H. Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Stratham.

McKeever took the witness stand in his own defense Thursday under questioning by his attorney, Richard Samdperil. He said he and his girlfriend share ownership of the dogs and he disputed Bacon's previous testimony that the car was parked in full sun.

"The whole street was completely covered in the shade," he said.

He said both car windows were about half down and the sunroof was completely open when the dogs were inside the car and he returned to the car a couple of times during the 45-minute period it was parked. Later at the SPCA, McKeever said, he refused to give Bacon his personal information, including his phone number.

"I don't know why I would," he testified.

Samdperil presented the court with records showing the dogs had regularly been seen by a veterinarian. In response, prosecutor Rena DiLando noted the same records showed the adult dog had previously been vomiting for more than two weeks before it was brought to a veterinarian.

When asked by his lawyer if he would adhere to hypothetical court orders to have the dogs seen regularly by a veterinarian and never leave them unattended in a car, McKeever said, "absolutely."

Samdperil told the court McKeever should not lose permanent custody of his dogs for a single incident, noting many cases of child neglect don't result in a permanent loss of custody. McKeever has no history of animal abuse, or failures to adhere to court orders, he added.

There's no evidence McKeever knowingly and willfully caused the animals harm, or that his continued ownership of them would endanger the dogs, said Samdperil.

DiLando said she disagreed and was allowed by the court to enter a memo of law within a week.

Judge Sawako Gardner noted the court will be closed most of the next two weeks and that she'd give the case precedent over others, after reading the prosecutor's argument next week. The judge also advised McKeever he could "take comfort" knowing the animals are safe with the SPCA.

On Wednesday Bacon testified that McKeever said, "so what," when told his two dogs could have died within 10 minutes in the hot car. She also told the court the puppy was lethargic and had bloody diarrhea, and the adult dog licked an area of the ground stained by water.

"My concern is that it will happen again," she said.

On cross examination by Samdperil, Bacon acknowledged the law requires her to get a court order to seize an animal unless there is insufficient time and that she did not attempt to get a court order.
Source: seacoastonline.com - Jul 28, 2011
Update posted on Jul 28, 2011 - 4:55PM 
When Matt McKeever was told his two dogs could have died within 10 minutes because they were in his parked car with an internal temperature of 106 degrees, he said, "so what?," testified Animal Control Officer Courtney Bacon.

Bacon offered that sworn testimony during a hearing in Portsmouth District Court Wednesday when the city petitioned to take permanent custody of McKeever's dogs.

McKeever, 32, of 439 Market St., Portland, Maine, is charged with two counts of animal cruelty alleging that on July 13, he left the dogs in a car parked on Market Street for about 45 minutes. One of the dogs is a husky puppy and the other is an adult shiba inu.

Bacon told the court that when she was dispatched to the area, the car was in direct sunlight, the puppy was lethargic and had bloody diarrhea. The adult dog licked an area of the ground stained by water, she said.

After Bacon measured the interior temperature of McKeever's car, he arrived on scene and "showed no concern for the dogs," she testified. When Bacon told the dogs' owner she was taking them to a veterinarian for an examination, she said his response was, "I don't have time for this" and "Live Free or Die, yeah right."

The dogs were taken into temporary protective custody and brought to the N.H. Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Stratham, she testified. There, McKeever repeatedly said his civil rights were being violated, and Stratham police were called to intervene, according to the animal control officer.

The court was presented with a letter from the SPCA noting the puppy had been given medication and fluids. The following day, Bacon said, the puppy was attentive and playful.

"My concern is that it will happen again," she said.

On cross examination by McKeever's attorney, Richard Samdperil, Bacon acknowledged the law requires her to get a court order to seize an animal unless there is insufficient time. She said she did not attempt to get a court order to take McKeever's dogs.

Also testifying was veterinarian Jerilee Zezula who said she studied police reports and records documenting the dogs' treatment and believed they showed McKeever's "lack of concern."

Samdperil told the court McKeever wished to take the stand to testify on his own behalf, but Judge Sawako Gardner noted the case had gone beyond the court's closing time. The temporary custody hearing is scheduled to resume at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
Source: seacoastonline.com - Jul 27, 2011
Update posted on Jul 28, 2011 - 4:44PM 

References

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