New features are coming soon. Login with Facebook to get an early start and help us test them out!
For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.
Monday, Aug 1, 2011County: York
Disposition: Not Charged
Person of Interest: Nena Wise
Case Updates: 3 update(s) available
In a CBS 21 News exclusive, what you're about to see is shocking and disturbing video of alleged animal abuse and possible bestiality.
A York County woman gave us the video she took, because she believes her neighbor is abusing some rescue dogs.
Late Thursday night, one of our sources confirmed that a criminal investigation is underway. CBS 21 actually spoke to the dog owner, who says she's doing nothing wrong.
This video, taken by Sandy McAfee of Manchester Township, shows her neighbor, Nena Wise hitting her dogs. It also looks like the woman is sodomizing the animals.
All 8 dogs are rescue animals and two are blind.
"It's sad, it's really sad and if someone did that to my animal there's no way," stated Sandy McAfee.
Sandy took the video back in August, after the York SPCA told her they needed to see proof of the alleged animal abuse before deciding to investigate.
"I love animals, dogs, cats, whatever and it's just the right thing to do," McAfee explained.
After we interviewed Sandy, we walked across the street to Nena Wise's home to ask her about the allegations. This is what she said first.
"You've been cajoled into thinking something that's not true," Wise defended. "My dogs are healthy, my vet knows this we are going to have a legal case against the people."
Then we asked her about the video: "The video just shows me taking care of dogs, they told people that there were things going on that aren't," Wise continued.
Sandy did go to the York SPCA with the video. A Humane Officer there told her they would investigate this.
Again, another source does tell us tonight that this is also now a criminal investigation.
Neighbors tell CBS 21 that they witness Wise doing this to her dogs twice a day, every day.
Uncensored Video: Warning some may find disturbing:
|The York County District Attorney says no charges will be filed against the woman videotaped by a neighbor who believed she was abusing her dogs.|
The DA made it clear this was a very thorough and complete investigation involving his office, witnesses, animal experts, and the dog owner herself. Nena Wise will not face charges.
Wise told CBS 21 from the start that she was acting in the dog's best interest and her vet knew what she was doing.
DA Tom Kearney says an extensive investigation shows Wise was not breaking any laws.
"This was not what it was thought to be by those across the street observing the conduct. In fact the process as indicated in release is recognized and approved practice and was known to vet that it was being done," stated York County District Attorney Tom Kearney.
Kearney also pointed out these dogs had been taken to the vet over 90 times in the last 13 years.
As far as the neighbor who turned in the video, Kearney says she did the right thing and that even though Wise was not acting criminally, anyone who witnesses what they believe could be animal cruelty is encouraged to step forward and speak up.
From York County District Attorney Tom Kearney:
In late August 2011, the York County SPCA received a complaint regarding the care and well being of several Siberian Huskies located in Manchester Twp, York County. An SPCA dog law enforcement officer promptly met with the complainant. The complainant was interviewed and provided a video recording of approximately 6 hours in length taken over the course of four days in late August, 2011. The SPCA conducted an investigation, and it was determined that criminal charges were not warranted. Since that time, the video has been released to the media, and an organized effort has occurred to apply pressure to obtain prosecution.
This sustained effort by some to force prosecution has resulted in the character of the private individual dog owner, along with members of the SPCA being publicly sullied to the point that they are now receiving anonymous threats requires a deviation from our normal policy. This press release addresses the reasons for the decision by the Office of the District Attorney of York County not to file criminal charges.
After receiving a complaint from a private individual regarding abuse of animals, the dog law officer met with the complainant. The complainant advised the investigating officer of witnessing, on several occasions, the owner of the huskies insert her finger(s) into the dogs' rectums to facilitate a bowel movement. The complainant also indicated that the owner occasionally hit the huskies. The complainant recorded what she witnessed and provided the dog law officer with a copy of the video. The video contained footage taken over the course of four days from the complainant's 2nd floor window across the street from the dog owner's residence. It shows a dog owner's interaction with several animals over a period of approximately 6 hours. The video was viewed by the investigator and a minute by minute summary was prepared. The investigator then re-contacted the complainant to obtain a written account of the complainant's observations.
The investigating officer then met with the owner of the Siberian Huskies. The owner has been fully cooperative throughout the investigation. Each dog was physically examined by the officer. The investigating officer's background is extensive, having over 200 hours of classroom training and having conducted more than 11,000 animal cruelty investigations. The investigator determined that the huskies were living in a clean and sanitary environment, were adequately nourished, and exhibited no obvious signs of injury. Further, none of the animals exhibited any behavior that would be typical in an abusive environment.
The owner explained to the investigating officer that two of the huskies were elderly and no longer had control over their bowel movements. The owner denied inserting anything into the rectum of any of the dogs, but instead would rub the exterior of the animals' anuses with palm of hand in order to stimulate a bowel movement.
Research has verified that this method to stimulate defecation is not an uncommon practice. It is frequently used for show dogs to encourage bowel movements before a competition. The practice is also used for abandoned kittens and puppies that, in the absence of their mother, need the assistance of manual stimulation in order to defecate. It is a practice recognized as effective by veterinarians and its practice is described on the internet.
The investigating officer promptly conferred with the owner's veterinarian and obtained the veterinary records of each dog in the home. The owner's veterinarian is licensed to practice and is well known and respected in the local community.
According to the owner's veterinarian and the veterinary records, the huskies are taken to the veterinarian regularly, in excess of 90 times over the last 13 years. The veterinarian has never had to treat any of the owner's dogs for any injuries or traumas. The veterinarian is aware of the animals' conditions, indicating that the older dogs show evidence of spinal and joint arthritis, lumbar disc problems, spinal nerve degeneration all of which can contribute to loss of colon muscle tone, resulting in difficulty or inability to defecate. The veterinarian is aware of the method, and the usage of that method by the owner to stimulate bowel movements for the two older huskies. The veterinarian indicated that he has never seen any signs of trauma or abuse to any of the huskies. Specifically referenced was the fact that none of the dogs ever exhibited any signs of dermatitis or rashes in the perineal region nor have the dogs shown any physical signs of injury or penetration to the anal or vaginal areas. In fact, the veterinarian indicated the owner shows great concern and affection for the dogs and all seem to reciprocate that affection.
Additionally, as part of the investigation, the dog officer had a second licensed veterinarian physically examine the dogs, and provided their treatment records. The focus of the examination was to look for any injuries, scarring, or other signs of abuse. Specific attention was given to the anal area, looking for signs of rectal tearing or trauma. None of the dogs had any physical injury or evidence of anal or genital trauma or inflammation. The practice used to aid the dogs in defecation was described to this veterinarian by the owner who attended the examination. In the words of the examiner: "From a medical standpoint, this practice is reasonable and sound when performed in a proper way and with the same frequency that a dog would normally defecate." This examiner found the owner's attention to the dogs "to be comprehensive and above average" given the number of pets owned. In the professional opinion of the veterinarian, there was no physical evidence of abuse.
In October, 2011, the contents of the investigation (including the video) were provided to the ASPCA for review. Dr. Randall Lockwood and Jeffrey Eyre conducted that review. Dr. Lockwood is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Senior Vice President for Anti-Cruelty Field Services. His background includes a Ph.D. in psychology and specialization in animal cruelty and its link to interpersonal violence. Dr. Lockwood has extensive experience with the forensic investigation of animal cruelty. In January 2012, Dr. Lockwood expressed his professional opinion that the activity in the video was not criminal. Jeffrey Eyre, the ASPCA Director of Northeast Field Investigations and Response, also reviewed the investigation. In his opinion, the actions of the owner were not criminal.
The investigator then met with Northern York County Regional Police Department and an assistant district attorney to address potential prosecution of the complaint and discuss issues regarding the legal standards of "animal cruelty." It was determined a criminal case could not be established under Pennsylvania law. The officer was directed not to file criminal charges and the matter was closed.
As time progressed without a resulting prosecution, the complainant released it to the television media. Local media, after obscuring the occurring conduct, aired the video. The video also found its way onto "You Tube" and other media outlets. Viewing the obscured version, it is easy to arrive at a false conclusion that the owner is having sexual intercourse or digital penetration with the animal. Un-obscured, the video shows the dog positioning itself to defecate but being unsuccessful. The owner then lifts the tail and massages the dog's hindquarters using the palm of one hand on the dog's anal region.
After it's release, the complainant requested an appointment to meet with the District Attorney. The meeting occurred on Friday, March 2, 2012. Present were the complainant/video creator, the head of a private animal humane organization who was present at the complainant's request, the assistant district attorney assigned to the investigation, a county detective, and the District Attorney. The purpose of the meeting was to insure that all relevant evidence had been obtained.
After hearing from those individuals and viewing portions of the video, direction was given to law enforcement to interview several additional potential fact witnesses and make efforts to enhance portions of the video. This has now been completed. Several declined to make a statement indicating they observed nothing relevant to abuse. A few of the witnesses commented on what they perceived as rough treatment and one indicated anal digital penetration. The last witness, like complainant, lived across the street with an observation distance similar to the complainant. It was also clear that many of the witnesses had conversed with complainant about this matter prior to their statements and had seen the video. Enhancement of the video by law enforcement confirmed the conduct related by the owner. No penetration was observed on the enhanced video.
Potentially Applicable Statutes
The potentially applicable statute is found in Pennsylvania's Crimes Code and would constitute a summary offense:
Cruelty to Animals 18 Pa. C.S.A. 5511 (c)
(1) A person commits an offense if he wantonly or cruelly ill treats, overloads, beats, otherwise abuses any animal, or neglects any animal as to which he has a duty of care, whether belonging to himself or otherwise, or abandons any animal, or deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, drink, shelter or veterinary care, or access to clean and sanitary shelter which will protect the animal against inclement weather and preserve the animal's body heat and keep it dry.
It is the normal policy of the Office of the District Attorney in York County to neither confirm nor deny whether an investigation is or has occurred until charges are filed. To do otherwise has the effect of tarnishing the reputation of a private citizen who may never be prosecuted. In this matter, however, both representatives of the York SPCA and the private citizen dog owner have received anonymous threats by persons who have made assumptions without full knowledge of the facts. This has resulted from an organized campaign with a goal of applying public pressure so that a prosecution would occur.
This office, the York County SPCA, and even our County Commissioners have received numerous email and telephone calls demanding prosecution. These have come from many states and even foreign countries.
By way of example, one such email which was received by this office demonstrates the concerted efforts at play to compel a prosecution:
"If anyone wants to send me contacts (name, email, phone) of people/organizations/media outlets that you think will help, please do. I am working on an email to consolidate everything--the story, people to contact who may be able to help, a sample email for folks to send to those people, video and the petition--in an easy version so people can take 5 minutes to see how they can help and take action. I know we don't have a lot of time as rescuers, and I think by facilitating people on how they can help, we can put pressure on the right people, and get this out further in the media. I hope this gets out by tomorrow."
Another example is the creation of a page on the social networking site "Facebook " entitled "Help Stop Bestiality in York, PA", which contains contact information for those involved in the investigation together with the following content:
"Authorities are ignoring the cruelty to these beautiful dogs every day. They have seen the graphic video below and do nothing.
We need to make this go viral, GRAPHIC content!!!!!!!! Please share far and wide this woman needs to be held accountable for what she has done and is continuing to do!!!! This was reported to authorities over 6 months ago and still nothing While these babies are continuing to suffer this abuse...
We need to contact authorities and speak up for these babies..."
While perhaps well intentioned, an organized campaign does nothing to advance a prosecution. To the contrary, it is counterproductive, and worse, may be dangerous.
The Office of the District Attorney is quasi-judicial in nature. It acts as the gatekeeper for local prosecutions. It is required to, and does, make prosecutorial decisions based on evidence as applied to the law, regardless of outside pressures brought to bear on an investigation.
Prosecutors are properly required to release to a criminal defendant any information deemed to be exculpatory in nature. Materials evidencing organized efforts such as those described above must be released to a defendant, as a defendant may argue to a fact-finder that the prosecution was motivated not by the evidence, but by a desire to appease the public.
Of real concern are the anonymous threats made to the dog owner and members of the York County SPCA during the course of the investigation. While no doubt unintended by those attempting to press for a prosecution, the reality is that we live in a world inhabited by some who may chose to act irrationally. This reality was explained to those present at the meeting with the District Attorney.
Regarding the decision to prosecute, the recent Pennsylvania Superior Court case of Commonwealth v Crawford, 2011 PA Super 122; 24 A.3d 396 (2011) is instructive. Crawford was charged with violating Pennsylvania's Cruelty to Animals statute, 18 Pa. C.S.A. (c) (1) after attempting to turn three kittens into gothic cats by piercing their ears and necks as well as banding their tails.
The Superior Court held the evidence plainly sufficient to prove Crawford's malicious intent under this section. The Commonwealth presented testimony from a veterinarian that the piercings were inappropriate as they served no function. The doctor also noted appellant's method of docking the kittens' tails was inappropriate. Further, expert testimony was presented that the needle used was typically used to inject cattle and was much too large to use on a kitten. The expert stated that the piercings would be a constant source of irritation to the animals and that the banding was extremely painful to the kittens as well.
The Court provided a definition of the elements of "wantonness" and "cruelty" required for conviction under the statute. The words wanton and cruel are to be construed according to their common and approved usage.
Wanton misconduct was defined in Crawford as occurring when the actor has intentionally done an act of an unreasonable character, in disregard of a risk known to him or so obvious that he must be taken to have been aware of it and so great as to make it highly probable that harm would follow. It usually is accompanied by a conscious indifference to the consequences.
Cruel, in its common usage, is defined in Crawford as conduct disposed to inflict pain or suffering, devoid of humane feelings, causing or conducive to injury, grief, or pain, and unrelieved by leniency.
The Commonwealth is not required to depend upon proof by direct evidence, but may also meet its burden by circumstantial evidence alone. The Court in Crawford recognized that a state of mind by its very nature is subjective; a person's mind cannot be opened so that his or her intent can be observed. In the absence of a declaration disclosing a person's intent, therefore, one can only look to the conduct and the circumstances surrounding it to determine the mental state which occasioned it.
Looking to the circumstances of the matter presented, neither definition applies. The conduct was done in an effort to aid the apparent difficulty being experienced by the animals. The dogs appear to be otherwise well cared for, with a possible brief and arguable exception of rough handling on the video tape. The "wickedness of disposition" and "hardness of heart" required for malice is not evident from the video, or the statement of the owner. Nor is evidence of it present from the treating veterinarian or other experts who reviewed the matter.
The investigator, after promptly examining the dogs in their home environment after receipt of the complaint, found nothing amiss. The dogs' treating veterinarian was aware that the owner was employing the procedure and related no concerns or evidence of abuse. The veterinarian who was asked to examine the dogs found no physical trauma. The forensic experts who examined the evidence, including the tape, concluded no criminal activity had occurred. And while those uninitiated, who are unfamiliar with the method utilized, may find it odd or even repugnant, that does not rise to the level of wanton or cruel behavior required by the statute.
It is the decision of the District Attorney of York County that charges are not warranted in this matter. The matter is now closed.
|Source: whptv.com - Mar 9, 2012|
Update posted on Mar 9, 2012 - 6:09PM
|CBS 21 News has the latest on the ongoing animal abuse investigation out of York County.|
A county official is finally going on the record about this case.
York County Commissioner Steve Chronister tells us that, along with the SPCA and the District Attorney's Office, the Northern York County Regional Police are now also looking into this.
Last week, CBS 21 News broke this story, showing you video of dog owner Nena Wise with her huskies. Her neighbor took the video in August and gave it to the York SPCA because she believed the animals were being abused.
Commissioner Chronister says he spoke with York County District Attorney's Office. They tell him that right now it appears Nena isn't doing anything wrong, but he stresses that this video is still under investigation.
Since we aired the video, people around the world have seen it and have emailed him.
"I've had some lady call me from Canada, South Africa, Australia, these are people who have viewed this, it's under investigation," Chronister told us Wednesday afternoon.
We spoke with that dog owner in the video last week. She tells us that she takes good care of her dogs and isn't doing anything wrong.
|Source: whptv.com - Feb 29, 2012|
Update posted on Mar 1, 2012 - 12:38PM
|CBS 21 News has an update on the criminal investigation that's underway right now into animal abuse allegations out of York County.|
We're learning that at least two rescue organizations which gave the woman the dogs are now fighting to get them back.
A woman with one of the rescues near Philadelphia says that after seeing the video which we've been airing, she became very worried. Not only for the dog her organization gave this York County woman, but for the seven others she adopted.
Thursday night CBS 21 News showed you video we received from a worried animal lover in Manchester Township, York County.
It shows Nena Wise allegedly roughing up her dogs when they don't behave and it looks like she's sticking her fingers in the dog's anal area.
"It looks like she's putting something up there to help make them go faster," commented Paige Bluhm from Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue.
Paige Bluhm is with Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue. Her organization gave Wise a husky back in 2000.
After seeing the video, Paige started working to get the dog back.
"My concern is for Banshee where she is but I'm also concerned that I don't want to see Banshee go into the shelter either," stated Paige Bluhm.
Paige says she's been contacting the York SPCA to get Banshee back. The last time she spoke with them was in December.
"I had expressed concern," Paige recalled. "I knew she had several dogs and I was concerned about how fast she was growing the number of dogs at her house."
When CBS 21 News spoke with the dog owner Thursday night, she told us that she was not mistreating her huskies.
"You've been cajoled into thinking something that's not true," Wise countered. "My dogs are healthy, my vet knows this and we are going to have a legal case against the people."
The other organization which gave Nena Wise a blind dog to take care of gave us this statement tonight:
"Blind Dog Rescue Alliance is shocked and sickened at the disturbing video we were sent by Nena's neighbor. We screen all applicants very carefully, and we are heartbroken that she has Urkaz, one of our dogs. We hope that charges are brought against her soon, and that we can bring Urkaz back to our rescue. We just want those eight dogs out of that abusive situation as soon as possible."
CBS 21 was able to get a response on this case from the York SPCA Friday.
The York SPCA Executive Director isn't happy that we are reporting about these allegations and the criminal investigation underway.
She says this is a very sensitive case.
In an email, she states "As it is an ongoing investigation, we can not comment on the details despite the great deal of work that has already been done on this case."
Back in August, the person who took this video gave it to the York SPCA because she felt her neighbor was abusing some dogs. She wanted the SPCA to investigate.
A Humane Officer told the woman that they are investigating and Thursday night CBS 21 News discovered through one of our sources that a criminal investigation is also now underway.
Also Thursday night, we spoke with the woman who owns the dogs and she told us that her dogs are being well taken care of and she's not doing anything wrong.
We also showed the video to a veterinarian at the Gettysburg Pike Animal Clinic, who says it appears the woman is cleaning out her dogs anal glands.
We showed Doctor Nasir Shah the video of what looks like a York County woman inserting her fingers into her dog's anal area. The video was taken by the woman's neighbor in August and then given to the SPCA for an investigation.
The vet says it looks like the dog owner is cleaning out the animals anal glands with her fingers. He says, if that's not taken care of, it can cause a bad odor. But he emphasizes you should have an expert do this procedure.
"There are two ways to clean," stated Dr. Shah. "One is from outside and inside. We use gloves and it's painful to the dog so somebody hold it and the other one do it."
|Source: whptv.com - Feb 24, 2012|
Update posted on Mar 1, 2012 - 12:23PM
Note: Classifications and other fields should not be used to determine what specific charges the suspect is facing or was convicted of - they are for research and statistical purposes only. The case report and subsequent updates outline the specific charges. Charges referenced in the original case report may be modified throughout the course of the investigation or trial, so case updates, when available, should always be considered the most accurate reflection of charges.
For more information regarding classifications and usage of this database, please visit the database notes and disclaimer.