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No jail time in animal abuse sentence

CHESAPEAKE — The Proctorville owner of a Golden Retriever that was the victim in a high profile animal abuse case will not have to serve any jail time.

In a docket entry made Thursday, Lawrence County Municipal Judge Donald Capper suspended a 20-day jail sentence for David Bruce Skinner, 44, of 23201 State Route 243, Proctorville. The sentence was suspended on the condition that Skinner serve 60 hours of community service.

The dog, named Hammer, was found on July 25, chained to a tree on Skinner’s property “with the chain so tight it tore into the neck of the dog causing serious injury to the animal,” according to the criminal affidavit. The chain has to be surgically removed by a veterinarian, who said the chain had possibly been on the animal for four or five months.

Skinner, who earlier in the month had pleaded no contest, agreed to relinquish ownership of the dog to the Best Friends Animal Hospital in Teays Valley, W.Va. The dog has been under the care of the animal clinic since the time of its injuries.

Capper also ordered Skinner to pay restitution in the amount of $2,198.05. That is the amount the veterinarian Dr. Steven Mahnken submitted to the prosecutor’s office, although the vet at the time of the surgery had said he was willing to treat the animal for free. However, the prosecutor’s office requested a bill from the doctor.

The prosecutor’s office had also recommended a sentence of 30 days in jail with 18 days suspended; a $250 fine and 60 hours of community service.

The animal abuse is a second-degree misdemeanor, which has a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

Skinner declined twice to speak with a reporter from The Ironton Tribune about the incident. However, at a hearing on Aug. 15, he made a statement in open court.

“That is my dog. I raised that dog from a pup,” he said. “I may be negligent. I wouldn’t criminally hurt the dog.”

He said he kept the dog at his home in Rome Township because he was dating a woman in West Virginia and couldn’t care for the animal there. He said he came daily to feed and water the dog. Because of the animal’s long hair, he couldn’t see any problem with the chain.

“He wasn’t showing me any signs he was needing medical attention. He would have gotten it,” Skinner told the court.

Skinner also was given a fine of $400 and court costs of $90, both of which were suspended. The case is set for a probation officer on Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. and set for a review hearing on Feb. 2, 2009.