Dog’s death leads to two arrests

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, October 24, 2018

RICH SQUARE – Two arrests have been made in the death of a dog here in late August.

Northampton County Sheriff Jack Smith said arrest warrants were served Sunday on Kenneth Stephenson, age 49, and 37-year-old Chekila Stephenson, both of Rich Square. Each was charged with a single count of cruelty to animals and one count each of failure to dispose of a dead animal.

Both received a $750 unsecured bond and are scheduled to make their first court appearance on Nov. 20.

Smith said the arrest warrants were the result of an investigation that began on Oct. 11 conducted by NCSO Deputy K. Byrum and the cruelty animal investigation department of PETA.

“The Northampton County Sheriff’s Office takes all concerns and information concerning animal cruelty very seriously and we will investigate it to the fullest extent of the law,” Sheriff Smith stated. “If the investigation reveals that there is a violation of the animal cruelty law then the Sheriff’s Office will bring charges against those responsible for the well-being of such animal.”

On Tuesday of this week, PETA sent a press release in regards to this case. The release said a PETA fieldworker visited the Stephenson property in late August, discovering a two-year-old black lab (named Molly) still tied up in the backyard. The lab’s deceased body was allegedly in a shallow dirt hole, apparently dug in an attempt by the dog to escape the heat prior to its death.

“Like other dogs whose entire lives are spent trapped on a tether, Molly was chronically neglected and deprived of all that she needed and craved, even the chance to avoid an agonizing death from extreme heat,” PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch stated in the press release. “PETA urges anyone who sees animals being neglected or abused to help them by alerting authorities immediately.”

The press release went on to say that PETA fieldworkers had been visiting dogs in the Stephensons’ custody for the last year. The group’s Community Animal Project staffers had provided the dogs, including Molly, with doghouses and straw bedding, anti–fly strike and deworming medication, and more.

It was alleged in the press release that, “During virtually every visit, the animals were found without basic necessities such as water and food, and they were often so entangled in their tethers that they could barely move. On one visit, a staffer noticed that Molly was suffering from a dangerous uterine prolapse, which PETA’s veterinary clinic treated free of charge. The Stephensons refused to bring her indoors to heal after this free emergency surgery, despite the group’s appeal to them to do so.”

PETA urges anyone who witnesses neglect to report it to local authorities. If possible, witnesses should take photos and note how long an animal is left without adequate food, water, or shelter.

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