Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19241
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Animal was bound
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Attorneys/Judges
Prosecutor(s): Kevin Kortright
Defense(s): Michael Martin, Christian Morris
Judge(s): Kelly McKeighan


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Friday, Feb 3, 2012

County: Washington

Charges: Misdemeanor, Felony CTA
Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 5 files available

Alleged:
» Shane Morehouse
» Louis M. Hart

Case Updates: 5 update(s) available

State Police are investigating the discovery of a dog left along Coach Road with its legs and mouth bound with duct tape.

The big, shaggy, brown-and-gray mixed breed was spotted at around 11 a.m. Friday by Argyle Highway Department workers. It was lying on the side of Coach Road, just south of Summit Lake Road, Trooper Kevin Saunders said.

"It was just laying there," he said.

The dog's back legs had been taped together, as had the front legs, and it had been able to work free of duct tape that had been put around its mouth. It also had a nasty wound to its neck, police said.

Jason Rozelle, one of the town workers who helped the dog, said it ate grass along the side of the road after it was freed and was drinking water from a ditch.

Fellow town employee Poncho Wade, who first spotted the dog, gave it his lunch - ziti and wheat flatbread - before they took it back to the highway garage to give it dog food and jerky. Local resident Kenneth Filkins assisted as well.

Saunders said the dog was very friendly.

"He's such a nice dog. I can't believe it," Rozelle said.

The dog was turned over to the SPCA of Upstate New York, and shelter officials had it taken to a veterinarian for treatment of the neck injury.

SPCA executive director Cathy Cloutier said it appears to be a malamute/shepherd mix.

The dog was so hungry it was trying to eat a shirt and the hair that was being shaved from it to treat the neck wound when it was brought to the SPCA shelter, Cloutier said.

"The dog was starving to death," she said.

She said the dog should recover from the neck injury, which was caused by its neck growing over the collar. There were no tags on the collar.

The animal's gender was not released.


Case Updates

The two men charged with felony animal cruelty in the abandonment of a duct-taped dog along a rural road in Argyle last winter have turned down plea deal offers and appear headed to trial.

Both men, Shane A. Morehouse, 52, of Fort Edward, and Louis M. Hart, 43, of Hudson Falls, were in Washington County Court on Thursday as cases against them proceeded to pretrial hearings.

Lawyers for both waived hearings that could have resulted in the statements they gave police being suppressed. Hart's lawyer, Michael Martin, said his client's statement does not implicate him in any crime.

The two were indicted on felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges days after the large mixed-breed dog named Chubby was found along Coach Road with its legs and muzzle bound with duct tape.

The dog had a neck injury believed to have been caused by a tight collar, but was also found to have advanced cancer and was euthanized.

Police linked the dog to Hart after photos of it were publicized, and he told investigators he gave Chubby to Morehouse.

Morehouse, though, said Hart had asked him to get rid of the dog because he could not afford to pay for veterinary care, but Morehouse could not bring himself to kill the dog so he left it where he believed it would be found.

Martin and Morris both said they do not believe their clients committed the felony of aggravated animal cruelty.

Martin said his client was trying to find a new home for the dog, and provided Morehouse with a case of dog food when he left it with his friend.

"My client was trying to help the dog. He had it for 15 years," Martin said.

Martin said his client has been told he could plead guilty to a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge and serve a jail term to resolve the charges.

Morehouse's lawyer, Washington County Assistant Public Defender Christian Morris, said the plea deal offered to his client would require he plead guilty to a felony count of aggravated animal cruelty count and serve a jail sentence as well.

Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan scheduled a pretrial conference in both cases for June 8.

"If we don't have the framework for a resolution, we're going to set a trial date," McKeighan said.

The charges are punishable by up to 2 years in state prison.
Source: Post-Star - May 24, 2012
Update posted on Jun 4, 2012 - 3:26PM 
The owner of a dog that was found bound with duct tape along a rural road in Argyle has refused a plea deal offer that would require him to plead guilty to a felony animal cruelty charge.

The man who is accused of binding and abandoning the dog has also been made the same plea deal offer, but his lawyer has not notified Warren County Judge Kelly McKeighan whether he will accept the offer.

The case centers on alleged abuse of a mixed breed dog named Chubby, which was found Feb. 3 with its paws bound with duct tape in a pull-off along Coach Road.

It had a serious neck wound that was believed to have come from a collar that was too tight, and the dog was euthanized after a veterinarian determined it had advanced cancer.

The case generated national media attention as animal rights groups pushed for felony charges.

The dog was found to have belonged to Louis M. Hart, 43, of Hudson Falls, and Hart told police he had given it to 53-year-old Fort Edward resident Shane A. Morehouse.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated animal cruelty, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and animal abandonment.

Hart was in Washington County Court on Wednesday for pre-trial motions, and his lawyer, Michael Martin, notified McKeighan that the plea deal offer made by the Washington County District Attorney's Office was not acceptable.

Martin said it appears his client is headed to trial.

"My guy maintains he didn't do anything wrong. He loved Chubby," he said.

He said Hart has veterinarian records that show the dog was cared for, and Hart gave Morehouse a case of dog food when he gave Chubby to him.

Morehouse, though, has said that Hart gave him the dog and asked him to get rid of it because he couldn't afford to pay for veterinary care. He said he could not bring himself to kill it, so he left it on the roadside where he believed it would be found.

Morehouse's lawyer, Washington County Assistant Public Defender Christian Morris, could not be reached for comment Thursday or Friday, but so far he has given no indication to prosecutors that his client will accept the plea deal offer.

He said earlier this year that he does not believe the felony charge is applicable in the case.

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said his office was prepared for trial.

Both men are due back in Washington County Court on May 4, Morehouse for pre-trial motions and Hart for a pre-trial evidentiary hearing.

The felony aggravated animal cruelty count is punishable by up to 2 years in state prison, while the misdemeanors can bring up to a year in Washington County Jail.
Source: poststar.com - Apr 7, 2012
Update posted on Apr 8, 2012 - 3:55PM 
The owner of a badly injured dog that was bound and abandoned on a roadside in Argyle earlier this month pleaded not guilty Thursday to a felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty.

Hudson Falls resident Louis M. Hart, 43, was visibly upset when Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan informed him that he faced a three-count indictment in connection with the abandonment of his dog, Chubby.

Hart replied "no way" at least twice as Washington County Assistant Public Defender Christian Morris read the charges to him, which include misdemeanr counts of animal cruelty and animal abandonment in addition to the felony.

Hart was charged in connection with the Feb. 3 discovery of the large mixed-breed dog off the side of Coach Road. The dog's paws had been bound with duct tape and tape had been placed around its mouth.

It also had a severe neck injury that police said stemmed from a lack of care before he was abandoned, and it was that neck injury that led to charges against Hart.

Authorities said the neck wound was from the dog's neck growing around its collar, and the indictment alleges he was guilty of "restraining and neglecting the animal in such a manner to cause serious physical injury."

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said his office believes Hart was an active participant in the effort to ditch the dog.

"We believe he was part of the duct-taping too," Kortright said.

Hart told The Post-Star the day after the dog was found that he had asked the man who was charged with abandoning it, Fort Edward resident Shane A. Morehouse, 52, to give it to a relative in Argyle who had room for it to run.

Morehouse, though, said Hart asked him to suffocate the dog because he could not afford veterinary care for the neck injury, but that he could not go through with it so he left it where he thought someone would find it.

A veterinary exam the day Chubby was found led to a conclusion the dog had advanced cancer, and it was euthanized.

Hart had not been charged until the grand jury review of the case.

Washington County Assistant District Attorney Michael Stern asked for bail to be set. But McKeighan agreed to release him on his own recognizance, and ordered a mental exam to see if Hart understands the case against him and can assist with his defense.

Both Hart and Morehouse are disabled from serious head injuries, Hart from an electrocution and Morehouse from a car accident.

When McKeighan warned Hart that the case would continue even if he skipped court, Hart said he would not disobey the court.

"I want justice for my dog," he said loudly.

Morris represents Morehouse, and stood in for the arraignment of Hart on Friday but will not represent him.

Morehouse has been indicted as well, and he is to be arraigned in the coming days.

It was unclear Friday whether he will face a felony charge, but he was initially charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty and misdemeanor animal abandonment the day after Chubby was found.

Aggravated animal cruelty is punishable by up to 2 years in state prison.
Source: poststar.com - Feb 16, 2012
Update posted on Feb 17, 2012 - 3:31PM 
A Washington County grand jury on Thursday filed an indictment in the case of a dog that was left duct-taped on the side of a road in Argyle.

The grand jury heard testimony in the case for several hours, according to sources familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity, but what charges were filed was unclear late Thursday.

Indictments are confidential until they are handed up to a judge, and Thursday's grand jury actions will be forwarded to Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan on Feb. 16.

"I can't comment on grand jury action," Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said Thursday.

The grand jury was considering charges against the man State Police charged in the case, Shane A. Morehouse, 52, of Fort Edward, and the dog's owner, Louis Hart of Hudson Falls. Police said both men have a history of serious head injuries from unrelated accidents.

Hart has not been charged, but authorities are looking into whether he should be prosecuted in connection with a gruesome neck injury the dog suffered before it was left bound with duct tape along Coach Road on Feb. 3.

Morehouse was charged with misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and animal abandonment and Kortright said earlier this week that a felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty was possible, though it was unclear whether Morehouse, Hart or both could potentially face that charge.

The dog, a malamute-wolf mix named Chubby, was euthanized after it was rescued by Argyle Highway Department workers who spotted it lying along the rural road. It had extensive cancer in its abdomen.

Media reports about the case led State Police to discover that Hart was its owner, and he pointed the finger at Morehouse.

Morehouse, who is disabled from a severe head injury in a car accident more than 20 years ago, said in an interview on Thursday that Hart asked him to suffocate the dog by putting duct tape over its mouth because he could not afford veterinary care for the dog's neck wound.

Hart said the injury was from an attack by another animal, but police said it appeared to have been from a collar that was too tight, causing the dog's neck to grow over it.
Morehouse, who owns a mixed-breed dog named Bromley, said he loves dogs and believed he was doing the right thing in leaving it where it would be found. He said he didn't know he could have taken it to a shelter.

"I was a fool to help him (Hart). I know now what I did was wrong," he said. "He said the dog wasn't going to live but I couldn't go through with (killing) him. I love animals and I thought if I left him there somebody would find him."

The case isn't the first time Morehouse made local headlines.

In the early 1970s, he shot and killed his sister at their Queensbury home. He said the shooting was accidental and he was 10 years old at the time. No further details were available Thursday, and Morehouse acknowledged the matter but did not want to discuss it.

"I live with that every day," he said, tears welling in his eyes.
Source: Post Star - Feb 9, 2012
Update posted on Feb 9, 2012 - 5:00PM 
The dog found bound with duct tape on the side of the road in Argyle Friday morning had to be euthanized Saturday.

Meanwhile, State Police charged a Fort Edward man in connection with the case.

Police say 52-year-old Shane Morehouse admitted to duct taping a dog, and leaving him to die along Coach Road in Argyle.

Saturday, police charged Morehouse with animal cruelty and animal abandonment.

"This is going to be a misdemeanor cruelty charge, being that the animal didn't suffer serious physical injury or death as a result of being bound and dumped on the side of the road," explained NYSP Lt. Joe Keane.

Police say Morehouse is a friend of the dog's owner, Hudson Falls resident Louis Hart.

Police say Hart tells them, he was trying to care for the dog's wounded neck, but that he couldn't afford to go to the vet, and that is why he called Morehouse.

"Mr. Morehouse had promised the owner he was going to take the dog where it could roam free in its last days," Lt. Keane said.

We stopped at Hart's home to see if he wanted to explain, but there was no answer.

Hart's neighbor, Leroy Brilyea showed our news crew the back of his property, on the other side of the fence, where he says the dog was kept.

"They had a long chain around its neck with padlocks," Brilyea said.

Brilyea says the dog was left outside without shelter for years.

"It has been living in mud for two years. In the winter time they go out and pour food on the ground, it's terrible," Brilyea said.

Police say Hart tells them the dog sustained his wounds after getting into a scuffle with another animals in the backyard.

But Brilyea isn't convinced.

"There's no doubt," he said. "Those cuts around the dog's neck didn't happen yesterday."

Brilyea tells us he and other neighbors called Hudson Falls Police about the dog, but he says they never did anything.

FOX23 News called the Police Department, but we didn't hear back by news time.

Hart has not been charged.

Morehouse was released and is due back in court on February 14th at 5:00PM.

State Police say more charges could be pending.
Source: fox23news.com - Feb 4, 2012
Update posted on Feb 5, 2012 - 9:18PM 

References

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