Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18267
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (pit-bull)
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Prosecutor(s): Howard Long
Judge(s): Nicholas Trabosh

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

County: Camden

Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 3 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Dominique Dillard

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Lindenwold Borough Municipal Court Judge Nicholas Trabosh gave Schmiegel's abuser, 20-year old Dominique Dillard, 15 days of community service, a $500 fine, and a ban from owning pets or living with anyone who owns pets for five years. (Summary of charges: $500 fine + $75 safe neighborhood compensation + $50 violent crime commission + $33 court costs).

Unfortunately, the prosecutor at the court, Lindenwold County Prosecutor Howard Long, gave Dillard a plea deal. Turns out the judge wanted a harsher punishment, but Long, despite admittedly receiving countless complaints from animal advocates as well as the petition for Schmiegel's justice, still let Dillard off the hook. A slap in the face to animals and advocates everywhere, it would seem. You can contact him and let him know how you feel at Lindenwold Borough Offices, 2001 Egg Harbor Rd., Lindenwold, NJ 08021 or by phone at (856) 783-2121.

With her hair pulled back in braids and wearing yellow sweat capri pants, a green t-shirt, and teal flip-flops, Dillard didn't make much of an effort to look presentable. She approached the judge defiantly, and when asked to explain her side of the story with Schmiegel, she gave a lot of attitude in her response. This was after she raised her left hand to swear to tell the truth. Trabosh had to say, "Your other right hand." This video shows her speaking to the judge; at about 39 seconds, you hear him ask her what she did wrong. You'll love her response.

"I only had the dog for a week," she told Trabosh, at which point independent contractor John Micklewright stepped in and informed the judge Dillard had originally said she had the dog for three weeks before it was rescued. He also showed the judge the pictures taken of Schmiegel when the dog was first found and was hanging on to life by a thread. Trabosh seemed inclined to believe Micklewright, and asked Dillard how she could have let the dog end up in this condition, whether she'd had the dog for one week or three.

Dillard replied, "This is how the dog was given to me. I didn't let it get to this condition." Trabosh then asked her if she saw the dog every day in her backyard. Dillard said yes. Trabosh informed her that any dog under her care, whether it was given to her or not, was still her responsibility. He asked her why she didn't bathe the feces off the dog. Dillard said, "I'm not cleaning all the feces off that dog in my bathtub!" Dillard also informed the judge that she knows how to take care of animals because her family owns a kennel. A truly terrifying concept.

Trabosh made it clear that Dillard was irresponsible and negligent and even mentioned that he didn't like her attitude. "You just have excuse after excuse for this," he said, "and you haven't even tried to say you're sorry or appear contrite. I wouldn't let a rat live in the conditions you allowed this dog to live in." After stating Dillard's community service, he added, "If you don't show up, you'll be going to real live jail."

Kathy McGuire, president of New Jersey Aid for Animals, and also the temporary caregiver for Schmiegel, was asked to step up to speak to the judge as well. "In the last seven years, this is one of the worst cases of animal abuse I've ever seen," she said. Privately, she said, "I resent the lowlifes that mistreat animals because they take time away from people like Micklewright and myself saving animals that need us."

"I think what frustrated the judge was her defiance. She would not give in that little bit extra," said Micklewright of Dillard's attitude in court.

When Micklewright first brought the dog to the veterinarian, he was told he should be put to sleep. Micklewright refused, and brought Schmiegel to another veterinarian at Blackwood Animal Hospital, who honored Micklewright's request to try to save the dog. "I would've bet that dog wasn't going to make it through the night, but I had to try," he said. "I was shocked when I found out he was alive the next morning." Schmiegel's temperature wasn't even registering on a thermometer that night because his body had shut down.

"We're supposed to be advocates for these animals! Not just say, 'Oh, put him to sleep,'" said McGuire. "And look at Schmiegel now! He's almost back to perfect health." Schmiegel is approximately 12 weeks old and 15 pounds now (up from seven when he was first found) and he's ready for adoption! He is soon going to Camp Bow Wow, where there's a webcam available for people to watch him playing!

After the hearing, we were able to approach Dillard and ask her some questions. You will find this video recording here." Audio is a little tough to hear, so to summarize she explained that she gave him food and water and tried to make sense of how the dog was a puppy given to her to take care of. I asked her if she was planning to take Schmiegel to the vet, and she said, "It did cross my mind. I just didn't know if he was gonna make it or not." The most sobering comment she made: "After five years, I'm gonna get another dog."

Case Updates

In May 2011, an extremely emaciated pit bull, whom everyone now knows as Schmiegel, was kept for weeks in a backyard in a feces-filled wire crate. He was on the brink of death from starvation when he was found. Click here to read original story.

His abuser, Dominique Dillard, appeared in court on June 1 and pled guilty to animal cruelty. She was given 15 days community service, a $500 fine, and was banned from owning or living with anyone who owns a pet for five years by Municipal Court Judge Nicholas Trabosh.

Although the judge felt a stronger sentence was appropriate, she received a plea deal from Lindenwold County Prosecutor, Howard Long.

To date, Dillard has performed none of the community service she was sentenced to back in June. A hearing is now set for this Thursday, February 16 at 10 a.m in Cherry Hill. It is open to the public.

New Jersey Aid for Animals (NJAFA), who nursed Schmiegel back to health, will be there with the animal cruelty investigator to speak on Schmiegel's behalf.

Please sign Schmiegel's petition to request to Judge Trabosh that Dominique Dillard serve her community service or go to jail. She should not be allowed to go unpunished for the horrible abuse she inflicted on Schmiegel.

After stating Dillard's community service in June, he added, "If you don't show up, you'll be going to real live jail." Let's hope he remembers that statement and follows through.
Source: - Feb 13, 2012
Update posted on Feb 13, 2012 - 10:10PM 


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