Couple gets jail time for pig abuse
CAMPBELL — A couple found with an extremely overweight pig living in “dungeon-like” conditions in their home pleaded guilty in Campbell Municipal Court to cruelty to companion animals, and each was sentenced to jail.
The second-degree misdemeanor to which Cortney Kline-Carnes, 36, and Shawn Kline, 27, of Chambers Street, pleaded was one of four charges that each originally faced, but the other three were dropped.
Each defendant was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 60 days suspended, and neither can own an animal for the next five years. Fees were waived because the Klines were deemed indigent.
“The circumstances in this case were egregious enough that we believed there needed to be punishment in the form of a definite jail sentence,” Prosecutor Brian J. Macala said. “Not only sending a message to other people that may run afoul of the law, relative to cruelty to animals, but also to give a proper punishment in this particular case.”
LIKE A DUNGEON
When officers arrived at the Chambers Street home in last July, they found Oreo the pig lying in the dark in a room that reeked of urine and feces, according to a police report.
“She was in a basement. … There were no windows. In was in a room in the basement that looked like a dungeon. When we went there, it was pitch dark, so it was not until we turned the light on that we saw the pig laying there,” said Campbell police officer Jim Conroy, who handles many of the animal cruelty cases. “She didn’t even move or flinch at our presence or the light. I thought it was dead at first.”
Oreo’s hooves were so overgrown that she could not walk to her nearby water. The animal rescue employees that assisted police said the pig was dehydrated and likely suffering from arthritis because she is so overweight.
The police report notes that the couple said Oreo was their emotional support animal and they’d had her since she was a piglet. It took six people to get the animal on a stretcher to carry her out of the apartment.
Oreo has been in the care of Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Ravenna since her rescue. According to an update from Laurie Jackson, sanctuary executive director, Oreo has lost 63 pounds in the last several months — getting her closer to a healthy weight, which is 100 to 150 pounds, according to Happy Trails.
“It has been an honor to watch Oreo come out of her shell and find out what it is to be a pig,” Jackson wrote in an email to Campbell police. “She still has a ways to go to correct her hooves. But having lost weight, she is now mobile and will walk to the outside when she feels like it. More than she may have ever dreamed!”
When Judge Patrick P. Cunning asked the couple if there was anything they would like to say following their guilty plea, they refused.
Shortly after the pig was removed from the home, Kline-Carnes created a petition to get Oreo back. It stated: “We have a sweet, innocent, loving and caring potbellied pig. She was wrongfully taken by zoning and the police. She doesn’t deserve this; we don’t deserve this.
“Our hearts have been completely ripped out. She is more than a potbellied pig, she is our best friend. She is literally like our child to us. Our whole entire world has been flipped upside down.”
Lady Freethinker, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit animal-rights group, took an interest in the case. Lex Talamo, a reporter and senior editor at Lady Freethinker, created a separate petition Sept. 8, 2022, seeking a maximum sentence for the couple and a lifetime prohibition against owning animals. When sent to the prosecutor Sept. 19, the petition had accumulated 33,737 signatures. It ended up getting close to 38,000.
Macala said he was aware of the petition, but never saw it. He said it is good to see public interest, but it did not affect how he prosecuted the case.
Talamo said her organization has readers worldwide, including in all 50 states. The Lady Freethinker petition states that pigs are very intelligent animals, which Talamo said people do not always understand, making the abuse more severe in this case.
“Overall, this is a positive ruling. Even though it’s not everything we asked for, the five-year prohibition on owning animals will help ensure that no future animals are harmed,” Nina Jackel, founder of Lady Freethinker, said.
Conroy said it isn’t often that people go to jail for animal cruelty, so any time they do, he considers it a win. In the last couple years, Conroy said he thinks there has been an uptick in animal cruelty situations.
“This case from Campbell, Ohio, inspires us because it shows the power of caring people working together to end very real suffering,” Jackel said. “This sweet pig Oreo will now spend the rest of her days being lovingly cared for at a sanctuary, and that’s all because one police officer cared enough to investigate a cruelty tip; one prosecutor chose to doggedly seek accountability; one judge recognized the seriousness of the suffering Oreo endured and the more than 38,000 people who signed our petition to show they cared.”