Animal rights advocates gather outside Campbell Municipal Court


CAMPBELL

Some 20 animal rights advocates gathered outside Campbell Municipal Court to protest the treatment of a dog by Tameeka Smith, 23, of Campbell.

Smith, who took over care of the dog after its previous owners left, allegedly kept the dog chained to a fence in her backyard with no food or water, which forced the dog to eat gravel.

Campbell police found the dead dog's frozen body last January.

"Charlie died either from starvation or from being frozen to death," said Jason Cooke, who organized the protest.

Smith had been scheduled to appear for a pretrial hearing today at Campbell Municipal Court, but the pretrial was reset for Nov. 13 at 11:00 a.m. If found guilty, Smith could face up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

Smith's attorney James E. Lanzo said, "I have no real comment other than that my client is going through a lot. I think the evidence is going to bear out that she is not responsible."

At her arraignment on Jan. 23, Smith pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty. "Justice for Charlie" protestors were also present at her arraignment.

The protestors, many of whom belonged to Nitro's Army Ohio, held signs reading "Justice for Charlie."

Advocates nicknamed the dog "Charlie," though initially they did not know the dog's name or gender.

Protestor Bev Snyder said the group is motivated by "love for Charlie."

Another protestor, Joanne Snyder, said the group hopes to make animal cruelty a felony in Ohio. It is currently a second-degree misdemeanor. The Nitro's Army Facebook page states that the group aims to pass "Nitro's Law," which would create harsher penalties for animal abuse and neglect.

Cooke said he was pleased with the turnout at today's protest. "It seems like the rallies keep getting bigger and bigger," he said.

Cooke said Smith's trial has been a "catalyst for a lot of change." He believes the allegations against Smith have created pressure to implement stricter anti-tethering ordinances.

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