Woman gets probation, $250 fine for dog neglect, 23 counts dropped

By Peter H. Milliken



A Berlin Center woman who pleaded no contest to five misdemeanor counts of animal neglect has been fined $250 and placed on a year’s probation with a $120 probation fee.

Judge Diane Vettori of Sebring Court also imposed Thursday a 90-day jail term, all of it suspended, on Heather Culver, 23, of Weaver Road.

Culver will have 90 days to pay the fine and $630 in court costs.

In the plea deal, agreed upon by Animal Charity and the Mahoning County prosecutor’s office, the prosecution dropped 23 other counts of animal neglect.

When humane agents from Animal Charity raided her home March 6, they seized 28 dogs housed in unclean conditions in her kennel but let her keep other dogs inside her house, said Jack Ausnehmer, an assistant county prosecutor.

Culver stayed out of jail because she is pregnant and because the neglect was short-term, over a period of five to 10 days, Ausnehmer said.

Ausnehmer said he believes the neglect stemmed from her pregnancy and the fact that her husband was working double shifts.

None of the 28 dogs was ill, and all were adopted out of Animal Charity, he said. The judge ordered forfeiture of the 28 dogs.

During Culver’s probation, Animal Charity may enter Culver’s premises unannounced to monitor her remaining animals, and Culver may not apply for a kennel license or board animals without the judge’s permission. Judge Vettori prohibited her from breeding animals.

When Culver was arraigned last month, members of “Nitro’s Ohio Army” rallied outside the court to draw attention to Nitro’s Law, an Ohio House bill that would increase penalties for animal cruelty.

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, attended the rally as a supporter of that bill.

The bill is named after a dog that died of neglect in a Youngstown kennel in 2008.

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