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Tuesday, Aug 14, 2012County: Orangeburg
Defendant/Suspect: Joe Hendrix
A guilty verdict was returned on an Orangeburg man charged with mistreating dozens of animals, some of which were found roaming over his roof.
Orangeburg County Chief Magistrate Derrick Dash spent about 45 minutes in chambers before deciding 59-year-old Joe Hendrix had not provided adequate care for more than 50 dogs and one cat.
"The thing that sticks out the most to me about it is the inflicting of unnecessary pain," Dash said. "I think that the state has met the burden of proof, proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Hendrix did inflict unnecessary pain on the animals."
Dash found Hendrix guilty of two counts of ill-treatment of animals. One charge covered the 52 animals found on the former psychiatrist's North property in August. The second count was connected to another dog found on the property two months after the initial 52 animals were seized.
Hendrix was ordered to pay a fine of $1,300 within 30 days or spend 60 days in jail. A civil judgement of more than $9,100, reflecting the cost of caring for the animals, was also ordered against him.
Most of the animals, officials said, have been nursed back to health. They will be put up for adoption.
Other animals died during treatment or had to be put to death.
Animal control officers who investigated the case testified during the all-day trial that they were notified in August of the possible abuse of multiple animals at Hendrix's North Fork Road property outside of North.
Arriving at the remote property Aug. 14, officers found more than 25 dogs around unkempt structures. The malnourished condition of the dogs and a lack of food or water prompted authorities to seek a search warrant. The officers noticed food on the ground but it appeared moldy.
At a Carolina Avenue property in Orangeburg, a second property owned by Hendrix, officers located dogs roaming freely all over the house.
"We pulled into the driveway and we could see dogs on top of the roof," animal control officer Virginia Sandifer said. "There were two on the ground and the rest were on the roof."
Hendrix, who had a cot on the front porch of the Carolina Avenue residence, was allowed to capture the animals because "we didn't want them jumping off the roof," Sandifer said.
The cost of providing medical care for the 51 dogs and one cat was $49,226, the officers testified.
Orangeburg veterinarian Dr. Wayne Harley treated all of the animals. Sworn in as an expert witness, he said most of the animals were "undernourished, underweight."
One dachshund the veterinarian's office tried to save died in November of malnourishment, Harley said.
"It shouldn't have happened," he said.
In addition to being underfed, most of the 50-plus animals had some form of mange, infections, open sores and fleas, Harley said.
"Do you believe anyone is capable of caring for 51 animals without a vet?" Prosecutor Tommy Scott said.
"No, sir," Harley said.
Asked to sum up his findings, Harley said his word to describe the condition of the animals would be "neglect."
However, Hendrix took the stand to describe an oasis of open woods for the animals he collected, with running water, ponds and what was described as too much food.
"I did everything I could for those animals," he said.
"Did you cause any injuries to these dogs?" defense attorney Gerald Davis asked.
"No, of course not," Hendrix said.
Hendrix and two longtime friends testified the dogs at the North property were fed 50 pounds of food every other day and had access an artesian well beside several ponds.
Close friend Costoe Chambers told the court he personally took food to the dogs, driving from his North home to Orangeburg and back to the structures described as "kennels."
Jerry Kemmerlin said the same, saying he had taken table scraps to the dogs.
Dogs that became ill or needed medical treatment were taken to the Carolina Avenue property for closer care, Hendrix said.
"Why were the dogs on the roof?" Davis asked his client.
"Because of zoning, they weren't allowed to be in a cage on the ground," Hendrix said.
With the dogs running loose in Hendrix's former clinic on the Carolina Avenue property, city and county investigators found animal feces throughout.
"Feces from one end to the other, there was feces all over the roof," Sandifer said. "The ammonia of urine, it was just horrific."
After being asked to examine a photograph of the Carolina Avenue property to determine if it was suitable for a residence, Kemmerlin said it "absolutely" was not suitable for people but it wasn't too far gone for an animal.
Scott tried to introduce a photograph taken of a dog that is believed to have died in 2006 and was placed in a refrigerator that later malfunctioned. Hendrix said he was going to bury the dog but had broken his ankle.
Dash denied the motion to enter the gruesome picture of the dog's remains.
The trial was almost over before it began Wednesday when Hendrix tried to have his attorney dismissed prior to opening arguments. He told the court he wanted a jury trial and had fired his attorney.
Dash ruled the defendant had time to change his attorney two months ago when Davis had the charges lowered to the misdemeanor variety and the case sent back to magistrate's court for a bench trial.
Dash informed Hendrix the case was going forward, with or without representation.
Hendrix told the court he was proceeding under duress.
"I don't have a choice," he said.
- The Times & Democrat - Feb 7, 2013
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