Dogs confiscated from Jackson man await adoption

Friday, May 28, 2004

Three beagles and a Labrador mix confiscated from a Jackson man convicted of animal abuse soon will be available for adoption from the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri.

Associate Circuit Judge Scott Thomsen found Gregory Cain, 39, of 156 Ora Lee Drive in Jackson guilty of animal abuse Tuesday. Thomsen placed Cain on two years supervised probation and ordered him to pay restitution to the Humane Society for the costs of caring for the animals.

Cain owes the Humane Society $3,280 based on its boarding fee of $8 per day per dog. The fee includes the cost of food and veterinary care. The dogs were in the Humane Society's care 82 days.

Cain also was ordered to have no more than one dog. It will be up to his probation officer to see that Cain complies with the one-dog limit, said assistant prosecutor Gordon Glaus, who handled the case.

On March 5 the Cape Girardeau County Health Department received a call from one of Cain's neighbors complaining about trash in his yard. Director Charlotte Craig said she discovered the dogs by accident.

"We got out there and found a pitiful mess," Craig said.

Humane Society director Chuck Stucker, who also went to the dogs' rescue, said they were living in small rabbit hutches in what he called deplorable conditions. Cain had converted the hutches to dog kennels and put the dogs in the elevated hutches. The dogs' paws were in contact with a wire floor, not a solid base.

"They were about three feet off the ground, and the feces were piled up until they were almost touching the bottom," Stucker said.

Craig said she overlooked a dead beagle in one of the hutches. It was Stucker who noticed it.

"It had been dead in the hutch for some time," Craig said.

Stucker said it appeared to him that Cain was breeding hunting dogs for sale. He said the dogs appeared to be fed, although not enough. One beagle has heartworms.

Three dogs were crammed into one small cage. One of the confiscated beagles was pregnant.

"They were not in good living conditions," Stucker said.

The Humane Society had to petition the court to allow it to put that dog and the two puppies that were eventually born in foster care, where they will remain until the puppies are old enough to be adopted in a week or two.

The day she went to Cain's property, Craig said, she also saw two larger dogs. One had been chained to a tree so long the tree had grown around the chain, she said. The chain was only about 1 1/2 feet long.

A doghouse was nearby, Craig said, but the chain wouldn't allow the dog to reach the house. Another dog was chained with a longer chain, about 10 feet, but the dog had no shelter. Neither dog had food or water when she saw them.

The next day, Stucker and Craig returned to the house accompanied by Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's deputies who served a search warrant and confiscated the dogs. On the second trip, Craig said, the two dogs on chains were gone.

Neither Craig nor Stucker ever saw Cain. Craig said he either was not at home on the two visits she made or he did not answer his door. Stucker said Cain has never inquired about his confiscated dogs.

Since being in the Humane Society's care, the dogs are thriving.

The Lab mix appears to be about 6 months old, Stucker said, and the beagles are a few years old. Despite being neglected, Stucker said, all of the dogs are good-natured and adoptable.

Stucker doesn't think he'll have any trouble finding homes for the dogs. All will need vaccinations, and one dog will need lifetime heartworm treatment. Spaying or neutering is mandatory for any shelter animal.

The dogs don't seem to be apprehensive around children. They are becoming more socialized.

"We've been doing a little behavioral work with them," Stucker said. "They seem to be doing a lot better."

One beagle is still somewhat wary around people, he said, but she is coming around. The dogs will remain at the Humane Society until they have new homes. Stucker said they won't be euthanized. After all the care the shelter staff has given the dogs, they will make sure the dogs get a new lease on life.

Glaus, the prosecutor, said he was afraid they were going to be destroyed. "The Humane Society has taken good care of them, and all will be adopted out. That could not have worked out better."

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