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Woman pleads no contest to animal cruelty in frozen dog case

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

By Sarah Lehr


Local animal-rights activists are citing the case of a dog found dead and frozen while tied up outside a Campbell home as they push city leaders to adopt a proposed tethering ordinance.

Nearby communities, including Youngstown, Struthers and Boardman, have adopted their own tethering regulations, which restrict residents from tying companion animals outside for extended periods or under harsh conditions.

A small group of protesters spoke in favor of stricter tethering laws as they gathered outside Campbell Municipal Court on Monday before the trial of Tameka Smith, 25, of Youngstown. Police charged Smith with animal cruelty in January 2015 after finding a dead dog chained to a structure in a Reed Avenue yard without access to food or water. Animal activists have since nicknamed the dog “Charlie.”

Smith’s attorney James E. Lanzo has said the dog did not belong to his client and has filed documents in court to show Smith did not live at the Reed Avenue home at the time of the dog’s death. Lanzo could not be reached to comment Monday.

A former Reed Avenue resident told officers Smith had agreed to care for the dog after its previous owner moved, a police report states.

A judge found Smith guilty Monday after she pleaded no contest to a reduced charge. The judge sentenced her to 250 hours of community service at an animal shelter and a $500 fine.

Animal-rights activist Jason Cooke of Boardman said he was disappointed by the sentence, as he had hoped for jail time or an admission of guilt.

“Hopefully, her time at the animal shelter will cause her to reflect on the pain she caused Charlie and show her how loving dogs can be,” Cooke said.