NORWICH – During the Month of January, 2016 a Johnson City man, Anthony Thompson, 35, was accused and ticketed for alleged abuse on seven pit bulls on Whaupaunaucau Road in North Norwich.
Thompson faces a misdemeanor charge of overdriving, torturing, or injuring an animal, as it is said that Thompson failed to provide adequate water, shelter or food for the seven dogs who were recovered on the property.
The incident was first reported in January, when a concerned neighbor on Whaupaunaucau Road allegedly alerted the Chenango County Sheriff's Office to the animal abuse.
After obtaining a warrant from the courts on Jan. 29, 2016, members of the Chenango County Sheriff's Office, along North Norwich Dog Control Officer Matt Bates, returned on Jan. 30 to the property.
Bates was assisted by Rick Crowell, the Town of Sherburne Dog Control Officer.
Bates and Crowell, along with sheriff’s deputies, found the dogs in a wooded area behind the residence. It should be noted that the seven dogs were all allegedly chained with short logging chains.
According to Lieutenant Richard Cobb of the CCSO, a local veterinarian claimed there were significant signs of the dogs being involved in dog fighting.
Due to information on dog fighting, the female dogs are never the actual animals involved in the fights, but instead are generally used for breeding purposes.
Nearly two months later, now in March, the matter was brought before the Town of Norwich Court for a pre-trial hearing with the Honorable Judge James Fox presiding.
During this hearing, Thompson filed a petition for the dogs to be returned to him pending the investigation.
The Chenango County District Attorney's Office opposed this move and petitioned for all seven of the dogs to be removed from the care of Thompson.
Judge Fox did uphold part of the DA's request by having the court order six of the seven dogs to be turned over to a Dog Control Officer and out of the care of Thompson. It is alleged that the Dog Control Officer is in the process of having the six dogs treated and adopted.
The seventh, a female dog, was given back to Thompson.
Thompson was present with his attorney, Kelly Fischer of the Binghamton area, while Laura Parker was present on behalf of the people.
“What happened was there was a hearing. We were trying to get all the dogs to be taken away from the owner so we could set them up for adoption. I don’t know what the judge felt, but what the judge did was let him have the dog that was not abused back, that was over our objection,” said Chenango County District Attorney Joseph A. McBride. “We also asked that he not be able to possess any dogs while this matter is pending, and that was denied also.”
Due to public outcry over the outcome of the hearing, and the female dog being returned to Thompson, Facebook and social media in Chenango County – and expanding statewide – went viral with posts from support groups.
Many posts on Facebook spewed allegations of back-room dealings to avoid fees, euthanization of the animals, as well as allegations that the Chenango County DA's Office was trying to keep this out of the press.
These allegations spread like wildfire as many individuals have shared their opinions over the past 24-hour period.
“I just want to say it's insane that after animals are removed for obvious negligence on the part of the owner that he [Judge] decides to give one of the animals back before the end of the trial. That's pretty much it, cut and dry, seems like a no brainer to me. If you're going to treat them like property, then treat them like evidence and not give them back until he's found guilty or not guilty, at least that's my opinion. It's just insane to me that he would get one of them back especially the female that is bred for more fighting dogs,” said John Nixon, a Chenango County citizen.
Thompson's attorney was contacted at his office in Binghamton for comment but was unavailable at this time.
“Any fees that were incurred as a result of his [Thompson] mistreatment of those dogs will be given to the defendant if he is convicted after trial. No agreement was made that they were to be taken and euthanized, that is just not true also. There was no agreement that or statement from anybody in my office that we wanted to keep this out of the press,” said McBride. “We are here to protect the people of Chenango County as well as these abused animals.”
The total monetary amount for the veterinarian fees of the abused animals is unclear at this time.
While posting to your personal Facebook account is legal, the District Attorney's Office has asked that to stop the spread of untrue rumors, and for the sake of the abused dogs involved, anyone with further questions call the DA’s Office directly and that they will be informed on the situation to the best of their ability.
The matter is still open and pending in court and will be set down for trial sometime in the near future.
It should be noted that the defendant, Anthony Thompson, is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.