By Patricia Meade
The dog was taken to a vet by two neighbors, but it was too late.
YOUNGSTOWN — A German shepherd puppy choking in a tangled chain and sweltering in record-breaking heat without water had a temperature of 106 degrees before he died, a detective said.
“He was cooked alive,” Detective Sgt. John Perdue said as he signed charges against the dog’s owner. “I had half the neighborhood in my office signing complaints.”
The owner, Jody L. Seabolt, 48, of 118 S. Portland Ave. was arraigned Tuesday in municipal court on one count of animal cruelty and two counts of child endangering and will be back in court July 30. The endangering charges relate to what Patrolman Sam Mosca described as squalid and unsafe conditions he found Monday at Seabolt’s West Side rental property.
The children, Seabolt’s 8-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter, were taken by Mahoning County Children Services on Monday and placed temporarily with an aunt, reports show. Mosca said the children were home when they should have been in school.
Seabolt told The Vindicator that she was at work when her dog was removed by neighbors and taken to a vet. She denied mistreatment of the animal, saying he had food and water but added that he sometimes would knock the dishes over. Sheila Green, who lives across the street from Seabolt, said she heard Max, the 8-month-old German shepherd, yelping around 6:30 a.m. Monday. She called a neighbor down the street, Kim Boulton, who would know whom to contact for help, and then went to check on the dog.
Boulton said she called Animal Charity but wasn’t able to get a humane agent to come out until Monday afternoon; police were the only ones who responded.
“He was so tangled in his chain he couldn’t move. His tongue was hanging out and he wasn’t able to stand,” Green said.
A rusted dog chain remains in Seabolt’s front yard. The porch is several steps above the yard. Neighbors said Max would sometimes try to get under the porch to get out of the rain or sun — it was in the low 90s Monday — but too often his tangled chain prevented this.
Another neighbor, Chris Brocious, said the distressed animal could not lift his head. She tried dripping water on his tongue and he attempted to bite her hand, but he was too weak.
Mosca described finding the dog “lifeless, panting profusely and squealing in pain.” The officer said Seabolt’s 17-year-old daughter suggested he must have choked himself on the chain.
The officer said Boulton then approached and pleaded with him to allow her to take the dog to a vet. She and another neighbor carefully loaded Max into a car.
“We took the puppy to Ebert Animal Hospital [on Southern Boulevard]. He had a temperature of 106 — even after being in the car with air conditioning on,” Boulton said as she and others gathered across from Seabolt’s house Tuesday. “They gave him an IV and cool baths and his temperature came down a little but he died at 7 Monday night.”
Several neighbors who spoke to The Vindicator nodded when questioned about the squalid conditions in Seabolt’s house described by Mosca.
Mosca said he found dirty clothes scattered in the living room, the dining room table covered with food-soiled plates and containers, a rotting watermelon and a hamster in a cage. The kitchen had grease-covered pans on the stove, a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, greasy walls and a filthy refrigerator with rotten food inside, he said.
The basement, he said, was partially flooded and the odor so bad it made him gag. No washer or dryer was found, and the only bathtub was filled with dirty clothes and water, the officer said in his report.
One bedroom was covered with dog feces and the other two filthy bedrooms had only mattresses on the floor without sheets, Mosca said.
Seabolt said she hadn’t seen the police report and maintained her house is clean. When asked about Max, she said: “I feel sad for it. I’m not cruel to animals.”
Municipal court records show Seabolt was charged in March with failure to register her dog and improper confinement of the animal. She was fined $25.
On May 5, she was charged with having litter, garbage and junk in her yard and is set for a hearing in Municipal Judge Robert P. Milich’s housing court July 9 on those charges.