Lancaster County SPCA says DA won’t investigate beating of puppy that died

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – The Lancaster County SPCA says a county detective declined to file charges in a case where a 14-week-old puppy had to be euthanized after it was brutally beaten; an allegation the district attorney’s office denies.

The female pit bull was left to suffer for days without care after it suffered broken bones, shattered teeth, paralysis of the back legs, and extensive internal bleeding, according to a news release from SPCA spokeswoman Jennifer Ericson.

Ericson said the puppy’s owner claimed she’d been hit by a car when he turned her over to the SPCA on Oct. 11, but he told another staffer the dog had fallen from a two-story building.

The SPCA’s veterinarian determined that puppy’s injuries were consistent with a brutal beating, and sores on her body indicated she’d been injured for days or even weeks.

Ericson said the SPCA heard from another veterinarian who saw the dog three days earlier. That vet said when he began asking questions, the owner grabbed the puppy and left the office. He also said he received a call from one of the owner’s relatives who claimed the owner had been beating the dog.

A forensic pathologist at Penn State University conducted a necropsy and found the puppy had been severely beaten over a two-week period. He said x-rays showed the dog had sustained 17 fractures, torn ligaments in her spine, and a hernia most likely caused by a kick to the abdomen, according to the SPCA news release.

The SPCA says executive director Susan Martin contacted a detective in the district attorney’s office, but that detective decided not to file charges against the owner even after speaking to the veterinarians.

However, a spokesman for District Attorney Craig Stedman’s office said the investigation is ongoing. He added that the SPCA’s decision to prematurely release information about the case to the public may have damaged the investigation.

“Our objective is about seeking justice for animals that are criminally neglected or abused; it is not about personal ego or curating a public image of righteousness,” spokesman Brett Hambright said in a statement.

Martin in September agreed to give up her authority to investigate cruelty cases after the district attorney’s office filed a court petition for her suspension. Animal cruelty investigations in the county were turned over to state and local police instead of Humane Society officers.

Martin had declined to file charges against the owner of a sick puppy named Libre. Stedman asked state police to take a second look at the case, and police charged Libre’s breeder with animal cruelty after concluding the puppy suffered “obvious neglect.”

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