In South Carolina, Dragging a Dog Almost to Death is a Misdemeanor
The old white pickup truck passed two women who were out for a drive the day after Thanksgiving near Marietta, S.C. It was dragging something, and the women were shocked when they realized what it was. At the end of a rope was a helpless, struggling dog.
“I could see the rope, her hanging, and dragging, fighting for her life,” Jennifer Bullock told WLOS TV. “I said oh my gosh Kay turn around, there’s a dog being drug.”
The rope finally snapped or was dropped, and the truck got away. The bloody trail left behind indicates the poor dog, a young pit bull, may have been dragged for over a mile. The women called Greenville County Animal Control, who responded to the scene and rushed the injured dog to an emergency animal hospital.
The two witnesses didn’t see the driver’s face or get a plate number, but two intrepid animal rescue volunteers were able to find two people who said they could identify the man responsible for this heartbreaking crime. With this information in hand, police have located and charged Roger Owens with animal cruelty for this offense.
That sounds great, but there’s a problem. Incredibly, because South Carolina’s animal cruelty laws are ridiculously lax, Owens has been charged only with a misdemeanor for this horrifying crime. At most, as an apparent two-time offender, under state law he faces a fine of up to $800 and 90 days in jail.
Fate Lends a Hand to Save a Pit Bill‘s Life
The pit bull, known today as Andra Grace, suffered injuries that were appalling and extensive. Her knees, paws and mammaries were scraped raw and in places torn open, exposing tendons and tissue. Some of her toenails were torn completely off.
One or more of her paws were “degloved,” meaning the protective layer of skin and fur was completely scraped off. In addition, she clearly hadn’t been fed well, as her ribs were plainly visible under her coat.
In the face of such devastating injuries, the vets were prepared to euthanize the poor dog. In a stroke of great good luck, just as Andra Grace was arriving at the animal hospital, a volunteer from Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation (SNARR), Cynthia Saracino, was at the facility picking up another dog.
Saracino notified SNARR’s leadership about the situation. After speaking with the vet about Andra Grace’s chances for a good quality of life if treated, SNARR agreed to take responsibility for paying for all the medical care this dog will need to recover.
It’s going to take a lot of money, $10,000 or more, to help put Andra Grace on the road to recovery. She’s undergone surgery for soft tissue damage and has had a blood transfusion. She’ll still need a few weeks of constant care to enable her injuries to heal. Donations are already coming in from people eager to help.
Though it’s only been a few days since this incident took place, a Facebook page set up by SNARR called Justice for Andra Grace already has over 36,000 followers. This case understandably tugs at many heart strings.
Andra Grace is bearing up remarkably well despite the gravity of her injuries and her previous maltreatment.
“She’s got all the reasons to be mad and be upset with people when they approach her, be fearful of people. She’s not. She’s been very sweet through all of this,” Dr. Brandon Adley, one of the vets who’s treating Andra Grace, told WBTW.
Incredibly, just a week after this terrifying incident, Andra Grace was already walking again — and wagging her tail.
“It’s amazing. It’s a testament to her spirit, and her strength, and her will,” Saracino told WBTW.
Breed Restrictions End Up Harming Yet Another Innocent Pit Bull
It turns out that Andra Grace was once known as Dixie. Just like the recent tragic story of abused pit bull “Puppy Doe,” Andra Grace was given away by her original owner because she was moving somewhere that prohibited pit bulls. The unfortunate dog ended up in the hands of the wrong owner and almost died because of it.
Making the situation even more heart wrenching, Andra Grace is also a new mother. She had a litter of puppies around Halloween and should still have been nursing them at the time of this incident. SNARR volunteers managed to track down some of the puppies’ whereabouts using tips from callers. Here’s a photo of the puppies found so far:
Though they were too young to be away from their mother yet, four of Andra Grace’s seven puppies had already been sold at five weeks of age. Luckily SNARR found the other three, and they are under a vet’s care. Sadly, one of them has died of an infection he could not fight.
SNARR is still searching for the missing four puppies with hopes of buying them back. Andra Grace cannot nurse her puppies due to her injuries, so she has not been reunited with them so far.
Why Does the Driver Face Only a Misdemeanor Charge?
Reading about the incredible cruelty inflicted on this dog, you may be wondering why Roger Owens faces what amounts to a slap on the wrist. Blame South Carolina’s animal cruelty laws. They are among the weakest in the nation.
Owens has been charged with the state’s garden variety misdemeanor animal cruelty offense. However, another provision of the same state law would support prosecution of anyone who:
…tortures, torments, needlessly mutilates, cruelly kills, or inflicts excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering upon any animal or by omission or commission causes the acts to be done…
Someone guilty of the above has committed a felony under state law and can be punished by six months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. It’s still not enough, but it’s better than how the matter is currently being handled.
Surely dragging a defenseless, malnourished, nursing mother dog for over a mile behind a truck constitutes “torture,” “torment” and/or the infliction of excessive and unnecessary pain and suffering. So what’s the problem, Greenville County? Why haven’t you charged this case as a felony animal cruelty offense?
Owens reportedly has an extensive history with local law enforcement, including a prior malicious animal cruelty conviction. He goes before a magistrate on the current misdemeanor charge on Dec. 20. You can keep track of the case by following the Justice for Andra Grace Facebook page.
May the rest of sweet Andra Grace’s life be much more comfortable, secure and happy than her sad past.
If you‘d like to encourage authorities in Greenville County to charge Roger Owens under the state‘s felony animal cruelty provision, sign this petition. Care2 will see that it is delivered to Greenville County Solicitor W.Walter Wilkins, who is responsible for prosecuting crimes in the jurisdiction where this ghastly incident occurred.
Photo credit: All images courtesy Justice for Andra Grace Facebook page