Man sentenced to jail for animal abuse

Published 9:42 pm Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Suffolk man will serve three days in jail after being found guilty Thursday of nearly starving his dog to death.

Christopher Jerome McDowell, 41, was sentenced to 180 days with 177 suspended in General District Court.

According to evidence presented in court, Animal Control officers were called out to McDowell’s home on Jan. 25. They found Jada, a 4- to 5-year-old boxer/pit bull mix, lying on the floor. She was unresponsive, cold to the touch, had a short leash wrapped around her neck and was lying in her own urine and feces, prosecutor Susan Walton said.

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The dog’s body temperature was measured at 69 degrees. Normal body temperature for a dog is 100.5 degrees, Animal Control Officer Nicole Munro said. Typically, organs shut down at 72 degrees.

“They don’t know how this dog was alive,” Walton said.

The dog’s heart rate was at 24, compared to a normal heart rate between 90 and 100.

Bennett’s Creek Veterinary Care responded and took the dog to the hospital, where she eventually made a full recovery.

“She survived, and she’s actually now up for adoption,” Walton said.

Walton asked for 10 days in jail because of the particularly appalling nature of the case, she said.

“We don’t normally ask for jail time in animal abuse cases, but these circumstances were rather egregious,” she said.

Walton credited the work of Animal Control and the doctors at Bennett’s Creek with the fact the dog is still alive.

“We appreciate the good work that Bennett’s Creek does,” Walton said. “They do a lot of work for Suffolk Animal Control.”

“It’s one of the worst cases that I’ve come upon,” said Munro, the Animal Control officer. “She was pretty close to death, but she’s been doing great now. It always feels good to have such a good outcome.”

Walton and Munro described Jada as “sweet” and “fun-loving.”

Anyone interested in adopting Jada is asked to call Bennett’s Creek Veterinary Care at 483-5990.