NORTH NORWICH – In what one local dog control officer called 'the worst case he has ever worked', a Johnson City man received a 60-day suspended sentence after being convicted of two misdemeanor counts of animal neglect.
In late January, 2016, members of the Chenango County Sheriff's Office were alerted to a suspected case of animal cruelty at a residence on Whaupaunaucau Road, in North Norwich.
Assisted by North Norwich dog control officer Matt Bates, and Sherburne dog control officer Rick Crowell, authorities arrived to a horrific scene.
Bates and Crowell, along with the sheriff’s deputies, found seven dogs down in a wooded area behind a residence belonging to then-35-year-old Anthony Thompson. The dogs were all allegedly chained with short logging chains.
In an earlier article published in The Evening Sun, on Feb. 9, Bates is quoted as saying, “they (the dogs) had no water or food. One dog was licking ice (just) to get fluid in them. It is just something you don’t see around here, something I would never picture seeing. The worst case I have ever worked, it is just really disturbing.”
Originally, there were allegations that the dogs were being trained to fight. Crowell was quoted as saying, “There has been a lot of studies and this is very typical of a dog fighting scenario, where they are being housed and trained. They take dogs called bait dogs and they file their teeth down manually. There were a couple of male dogs there with their teeth filed down. These dogs are used to taunt the dogs that are actually going to fight, as training.”
However, charges relating to these allegations were never filed.
Chenango County Assistant District Attorney Michael Genute handled the case. He said that Thompson, who faced six counts of overdriving, torturing, or injuring an animal, agreed to enter a plea of guilty to two of the counts.
Genute said that he asked Judge James Fox to sentence Thompson to straight jail time, but the judge instead decided to impose a suspended sentence on Thompson, due to the fact that he owed close to $8,000 in past due veterinary bills.
Thompson is on a one year conditional discharge, meaning that if he fails to make any of his required payments within the next year, he will appear back before the judge and be sentenced to 30 days in jail on each count. The max sentence that he can receive is 60 days in jail.
Genute also urged Judge Fox to order restrictions regarding Thompson and his ability to own pets in the future, but the judge did not impose any such restrictions.
Despite strong objections from the District Attorney's Office, one of the original seven dogs that was recovered from Thompson's residence was eventually returned to his care. The other six dogs who were rescued from the residence were in the care of the group 'Lainey's Army', who help to care for animals that have been abused. The group is in the process of finding new homes for each of the six dogs.
Ashley Babbitt Photo