Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Two jailed for animal cruelty

18-month sentence thought to be a first for Tristate

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — An 18-month jail sentence handed down by a Butler County municipal judge Monday to a couple who abandoned 20 dogs is thought to be the first time someone from the Tristate faces hard jail time for mistreating animals.

        Robert Rogers, 40, and his girlfriend Ellemar Ingram, 43, both of Lemon Township, each received the same sentence from Middletown Municipal Court Judge Mark W. Walls, who tacked on additional fines of $1,800 apiece.

        Earlier this month, animal authorities found the dogs at the house the couple had been renting. The animals were so malnourished that they had to be destroyed.

        Mr. Rogers and Ms. Ingram were each arrested on 50 charges, including cruelty to animals and animal abandonment, earlier this month.

        All but 18 charges of cruelty — a misdemeanor — were dropped in hopes of getting a stiffer sentence, said Butler County Chief Dog Warden Marie Marksbury. Cruelty brings a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $750 fine, but the jail time is normally suspended.

        “This really floored us and showed that we can be tough in situations like this,” said Ms. Marksbury, who has been dog warden for 16 years and could not remember another cruelty case resulting in jail time.

        Ms. Marksbury and Monroe police officers found the rest of the dogs in the house on Aug. 13, after neighbors complained about two dogs that had escaped from the house.

        The dogs were all rescued alive but were in such bad shape — they were eating the feces that covered the floor, and five puppies in the group had been gnawed — that they also were destroyed. Mr. Rogers had been previously convicted on cruelty charges in April 1998, when he did not seek medical attention for one of his dogs that had been hit by a car.

        He received a sentence of $500 and six months in jail, but all but $250 of the fine was suspended if he never appeared in court on cruelty charges again.

        “The judge asked me to rate this on a scale of 1 to 10, and I said if 10 was the worst, than this was a nine-plus,” Ms. Marksbury said. “The judge was not amused with Mr. Rogers, and thought the pictures we showed were pretty despicable. And he showed it.”

        Harold Dates, general manager of the Hamilton County office of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, also could not recall anyone receiving jail time in Greater Cincinnati for animal cruelty.

        “This definitely sends a message,” he said.

        “Dropping the hammer on them the second time around is a darn good idea.”


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