Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19965
Classification: Mutilation/Torture
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
More cases in Pierce County, WA
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Abuse was retaliation against animal's bad behavior
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Defense(s): Michael Carpenter
Judge(s): Bryan Chushcoff

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

Monday, Jun 17, 2013

County: Pierce

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Paul G. Sweeney

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Pierce County prosecutors this week charged a Gig Harbor man with felony animal cruelty for allegedly duct-taping shut the mouth of his son's dog to get the animal to stop barking.

Paul G. Sweeney, 57, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Pierce County Superior Court and was released on his own recognizance pending trial. Court Commissioner Meagan Foley prohibited Sweeney from owning animals until the case is resolved.

Sweeney declined to discuss the case on the record with The News Tribune, saying he didn't think it would be wise to talk publicly before his charge is resolved.

Zak Sweeney is the defendant's son and owner of the dog, Daisy, a 2-year-old Doberman pinscher he bought as a puppy. He said Wednesday that his father is a good man and that authorities have blown the case out of proportion.

"There's nothing wrong with the dog," said Zak Sweeney, 23. "The dog was fine."

His father came to the attention of authorities Monday when a passerby spotted Daisy in the backyard of Paul Sweeney's home, court records show. The witness told police the animal's snout was taped shut, that the dog also had tape around its front legs and "was foaming at the mouth," the records show.

A sheriff's deputy dispatched to the scene found the dog lying on the ground with duct tape "wrapped several times" around its snout. The dog's paws also were taped.

The deputy confronted Paul Sweeney, who allegedly said he taped the dog's mouth shut to keep it from barking and its paws to keep it from digging in the yard.

The deputy stood by while Sweeney removed the tape. The dog whimpered in pain throughout, records state.

Zak Sweeney told The News Tribune that he could find no evidence Daisy was hurt. "There was no hair missing from my dog's face," he said.

The younger Sweeney also said Daisy previously had chewed up muzzles the family purchased to try to control her barking.

A county animal control officer, after advising Paul Sweeney of his rights, asked how long Daisy had been taped.

"About four hours," he replied, according to the court records. He said he'd taped the dog's mouth shut once or twice before, the records show.

The animal control officer noted in a report that Daisy had been left in the full sun on a day when temperatures reached into the mid-70s.

Daisy always had access to shade, food and water and was groomed once a month, Zak Sweeney said. He showed a reporter a video he took of the family's backyard. The video shows several areas of shade; another family dog is seen lolling in the sun.

Zak Sweeney also disputed that the dog was taped for four hours, saying he left to run an errand about noon Friday and got a call an hour or so later saying his father was being arrested and his dog taken by authorities.

Animal control confiscated Daisy. The dog recovered well after some water and rest in an air-conditioned room, court records show.

Case Updates

A Gig Harbor man accused of wrapping duct tape around a dog's snout to keep the animal from barking pleaded guilty Wednesday to a gross misdemeanor charge of second-degree animal cruelty.

Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff sentenced Paul G. Sweeney, 57, to perform 80 hours of community service and forbade him from ever again owning dogs.

Sweeney had been charged with felony first-degree animal cruelty, but Pierce County prosecutors agreed to allow him to plead guilty to the reduced charge after neighbors came forward to vouch for his character.

The reduction will allow Sweeney to keep his truck-driving job, but he was forced to find another home for an elderly pooch not connected to the crime. Sweeney said outside court that that dog, named "Hooch," has been diagnosed with cancer and might have to be put down if the new owner is unable to properly care for it.

Sweeney was arrested in June after a passerby spotted a Doberman pinscher named "Daisy" in Sweeney's backyard. The Doberman had duct tape wrapped around its muzzle and front legs, court records show. That person called authorities, and Sweeney was arrested and charged.

He admitted in court Wednesday to taping the dog's muzzle temporarily to keep it from barking. He said efforts to use proper muzzles on Daisy failed because the dog managed to tear them off and chew them up.

Sweeney said he never meant to hurt the dog, which belonged to his son. Daisy has since been given to another family.

"At no time did I ever do it to cause harm," he said.

Deputy prosecutor Patrick Hammond had recommended a sentence of 30 days in jail.

"This isn't the most egregious animal cruelty case I've ever seen, but it is serious," Hammond told Chushcoff.

Sweeney's attorney, Michael Carpenter, asked that his client be sentenced to credit for time served in jail plus some community-service hours. Sweeney spent one day incarcerated after his arrest before being released on his own recognizance.

"He should not have done it," Carpenter said. "I know he's sorry for what he did."

Chushcoff said putting Sweeney in jail seemed extreme but that he wanted him to serve some punishment, so the judge imposed the 80 hours of community service and put Sweeney on two years probation.
Source: The News Tribune - Nov 6, 2013
Update posted on Nov 7, 2013 - 12:33AM 


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