Man pleads in dog case

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 3, 2008

CHESAPEAKE — Sentencing for the owner of a Golden Retriever who was the victim in a high-profile animal abuse case will be in two weeks.

David Bruce Skinner, 44, of 23201 State Route 243, Proctorville, went before Lawrence County Municipal Judge Donald. R. Capper Friday morning during an arraignment hearing on the charges.

Skinner pleaded no contest to a criminal affidavit alleging that he “did have a dog chained to his tree with the chain so tight it tore into the neck of dog causing serious injury to the animal.”

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The plight of Hammer has captured the attention of the Tri-State who saw photos of his bloody neck after the chain that held him to the tree grew into his skin and had to be surgically removed.

Skinner had few words to say in court and refused to speak to a reporter about the incident afterwards.

Since the defendant was pleading no contest, Capper requested a report from the prosecuting attorney before determining the sentence.

Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Jeffrey Smith read to the courtroom statements made at the time of the investigation by Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Newman.

Newman stated he was called to the scene on July 25 in Rome Township because of the concern of neighbors about the dog. They stated Skinner did not seem to be living there at the time but would come to the house for a few minutes.

Newman observed the chain cutting into the neck of the dog; that it was imbedded in the skin of the animal; and that it was infected, according to the information Smith told the judge.

The Lawrence County dog warden was contacted at the time but said he was unable to come to the scene. Neighbors then took the animal to a local veterinarian, Smith said.

Smith also told the court there were photographs of the injuries to the dog.

Additional information from Newman’s affidavit stated that Sharon Jenkins, a neighbor, had been feeding the dog. Jenkins was the neighbor who contacted the police.

“The bottom of the neck of the dog was very infected,” Newman’s report said.

“The dog had pus and several cuts from the chain.”

Dr. Steve Mahnken was the vet who cared for Hammer and reported back to the deputy.

“He states that the chain was possibly on the dog for approximately four or five months,” Newman stated. “The chain was actually under the skin from where the skin that was damaged had grown back over the chain. … Dr. Mahnken stated he has been a veterinarian for 18 years and has never seen a dog in this type of medical condition.”

The crime is a second degree misdemeanor whose penalty is 90 days in jail and a $750 fine, Capper said.

The judge postponed sentencing because he wanted to know the total cost of the vet bill so Skinner could make restitution.

The judge set sentencing for 10 a.m. Aug. 15. Skinner is free on a $1,000 signature bond.

Currently the dog is recuperating at the Best Friends Animal Hospital in Teays Valley, W.Va.