After a puppy’s particularly bad condition shocked animal control and rescue staff members, two Letcher County residents have been charged with torturing a dog to death and mistreating others.
Barry Jensen, 22, and Meghan Sturgill, 19, were arrested Thursday and charged with three counts of cruelty to animals and a felony charge of animal torture after five dogs were found in poor condition on their Whitesburg property, according to court records and animal control officials.
Wolfie, a shepherd-mix, was discovered unresponsive and had to be driven three hours to a veterinary hospital in Louisville that specializes in severe cases, said Tammy Noble, the chairwoman of the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter.
“This is Wolfie, our second case of the day,” The Arrow Fund, the Louisville-based rescue group, posted on its Facebook page when it first received the dog Wednesday. “He is as close to death as you can get.”
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Wolfie, who was about 5 months old, arrived at Bannon Woods Veterinary Hospital with internal parasites and fleas, a veterinarian’s report said. The puppy “appeared to be lifeless on presentation.”
Kim Stewart, the supervisor of Letcher County’s animal control unit, said that animal control officials investigated the property and found Wolfie unresponsive and malnourished in the back of a dog house.
“Wolfie couldn’t even raise his head,” Noble said. The dog was quickly removed and sent to the local veterinarian and then to the Arrow Fund.
“He had absolutely no fat, he was skin over bones,” said Rebecca Eaves, the president and founder of Arrow Fund. “His blood,” she added, “was the consistency of water.”
Wolfie died within hours of arriving in Louisville.
“Our hearts are completely broken,” The Arrow Fund wrote on its Facebook page Thursday morning. “Our Wolfie, the young shepherd mix from Hazard County became an Angel. He fought so hard, but his little body had been so damaged from horrendous neglect.”
“It is my professional opinion that this dog has suffered from severe neglect and abuse,” the veterinarian’s report read.
“Whoever did this needs to be punished to the full extent of the law,” Eaves said.
The other dogs were “not in horrible condition as far as starvation,” Stewart said, but were living in terrible conditions.
According to WYMT, the arrest citation stated that three of the dogs were crammed into a 6-by-6 cage with no food or water, and animal control officers said that dog feces and fleas were everywhere.
The animal control officers were “walking in feces because there was no where else to walk,” Noble said. The four living dogs were taken from the property and will be housed at the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter for the duration of the case.
Noble said she’s worked as the chairman of the local animal shelter for seven years and this is the first time that she’s seen someone charged with felony animal torture.
“We’re hoping to get justice for Wolfie,” Noble said. “And all the other ones out there.”
She added that animal neglect shouldn’t happen in the area because the shelter is there to help those who need it.
The shelter is not “trying to get people into trouble,” Noble said. “If people contact us, we will help them.”