CAMPBELL Man under house arrest for starving a Labrador
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
CAMPBELL -- A judge sentenced Nathaniel Danley to 15 days' house arrest for starving his year-old black Labrador mix, about the number of days it took the dog to die chained to her doghouse.
Law Director Brian Macala and defense lawyer Edward A. Sowinski worked out a plea agreement Friday in Campbell Municipal Court. The misdemeanor charge, animal cruelty, is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.
Macala recommended a sentence of 60 days in jail, all suspended, 15 days' house arrest with work privileges, a $250 fine, six months' probation and a provision that Danley not own, possess or keep an animal.
Sowinski asked that Judge John P. Almasy assign a time element to the animal ownership. The judge settled on five years.
"Five years for what?" Danley said, raising his voice as he stood next to his lawyer in front of the judge. "I don't even want no animal."
Sowinski told his client to pay attention. The judge, who accepted the terms of the plea agreement, offered no comment when he sentenced Danley, 63, of McGuffey Road, Coitsville.
Reaction: Danley left the courtroom the way he arrived -- angry. He refused to comment to The Vindicator. The newspaper wanted his reaction to petitions -- signed by roughly 650 people -- that implored the judge to hand down the maximum penalty.
"I don't want to say nothing," Danley said in the court hallway, jamming his hands in the pockets of his purple suit pants.
One of the petition circulators, Kay Talbot, who lives two streets away from Danley on Hubbard Road, stood and watched as he vented his anger.
With her was Dave Nelson, Animal Charity humane investigator, and Dr. Richard Nokes, a veterinarian at Animal Charity in Youngstown.
Talbot, an animal rights activist, said the petitions -- some signed by Danley's co-workers at WFMJ TV 21 -- were the result of efforts by Animal Charity, Angels for Animals and the humane society.
She said she complied when several of his co-workers, concerned about retaliation, asked that their names be scratched off the petitions.
Not harsh enough: Talbot didn't think the judge's sentence was stiff enough for what the dog endured before death. Nelson said he would have pushed for jail time and a mental evaluation if Danley had a record of animal cruelty.
Nokes performed an autopsy on the dog in March. Tests revealed the animal had no fat remaining in its body or food in its system.
He listed the cause of death as starvation and dehydration.
The Labrador mix weighed 25 pounds and should have weighed 65 pounds for its size and age, Nokes said in his test report.
Nokes said after court Friday that a dog, as long as it has water, can go two weeks without food before starving to death.
After Danley's March 22 arrest, Police Chief George Hahn said the dog's only water had been muddy puddles from rain. The vet told police the dog had been eating her own feces.
Assistant Police Chief Allan P. Morris, who took photographs of the dog, said the Labrador had also been eating plastic foam.
The call: Coitsville police said Danley had called the township's street department several times in March, requesting removal of a dead dog from his property.
When a street department worker discovered the starved animal still chained to her doghouse, he called police.