Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Ashland
appeal from the Ashland Municipal Court, Case No.
Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle
E. Wise, J.
Plaintiff-Appellee JOHN HOLLAND
Defendant-Appellant JOSEPH KEARNS, JR.
JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.
Hon. Earle E. Wise, J.
Appellant Sandra Rae Paul ["Paul"] appeals her
conviction and sentence after a bench trial in the Ashland
Municipal Court on one count of animal cruelty in violation
of Loudonville Ordinance 618.05(A)(2), a second-degree
and Procedural History
On or about September 01, 2015, Paul had driven from property
she owned in Jeromesville, Ohio to an apartment she had in
the Village of Loudonville, Ohio. She had 17 chickens with
her packed up in three large Tupperware plastic tubs, with
top grates and chicken waterers. She brought them with her
due to fears of possible predators killing them if left
unattended at the Jeromesville property. Upon arriving in the
parking lot by the apartment, she parked her 1995 Chrysler
minivan with the rear facing south, and went to the apartment
at about 10:00 a.m.
Tom Crist, a maintenance worker at the Loudon Bluffs
Apartment complex in Loudonville, Ohio, approached a dark
green van in the parking lot in response to complaints from
other residents. The van was in a position where it would be
in the direct sun without shade all during the day. It was a
humid, with temperatures in the mid-eighties. The front
windows of the van were opened about one and one half to two
Crist saw one chicken inside the van that appeared to be
dead, and one that appeared to be alive. There was a strong
odor of dead animals coming from the vehicle. The van was
piled with many objects, including a kitchen sink. The amount
of chicken feces inside the van appeared to have accumulated
over three or four days.
Crist called his supervisor and the police. After the police
arrived, Paul, who was a resident of Loudon Bluffs
Apartments, approached and admitted that she was keeping
chickens in the van.
Officer Michael Barrett of the Loudonville Police arrived
around 7:46 pm. He confirmed a strong smell of dead animals
coming from the vehicle. It was very hot inside the van. A
wave of heat came from the interior when the door was opened.
Paul told the officer that chickens can stand heat, and then
commented, "If they die, they die."
Crist noted a concern with Paul's appearance, due
possibly to her illness or medication and would not permit
her to drive the chickens back to the property in
Jeromesville, but he called a friend that he believed was
familiar with chickens to remove them. This person, Tiffany
Meyer, a realtor, arrived after the sun had set, and had two
cat carriers, measuring approximately 2 feet x 18 inches x 18
inches, or 18 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches, depending on
the description, to carry the seventeen chickens. Ms. Meyers
stuffed the chickens into the two carriers. All chickens were
alive when removed from the van by Ms. Meyer. Ms. Meyers took
the chickens to a client's barn and left them there for
the night. The next day, she discovered one had died. Ms.
Meyers admitted that it was possible the one chicken suffered
injuries during transportation to the barn.
Paul was cited at about 8:05 PM, or about 20 minutes after
the officer arrived on scene.
Dr. Melissa Ferry testified as a veterinarian with specific
expertise in and knowledge of birds and livestock standards.
Dr. Ferry opined that, under the conditions described in this
case, the ambient temperature inside the van would have been
conservatively 130 to 140 degrees. It would take about forty
minutes for the temperature to rise to that level inside the
van. Dr. Ferry said that chickens under these conditions
would have become sick or in some other way suffered. She
said that exposure to this severe heat was the likely cause
of death for the one that died.
Paul testified in her own defense. Paul admitted that she
arrived in the van at the apartment complex with the chickens
around "9 or 10 am." Paul portrayed herself as a
person who had experience with chickens. She kept flocks of
up to 70 birds for seven or eight years. Paul was once
employed as an animal control officer, with specific training
in the animal cruelty and neglect laws of the State of Ohio.
Paul testified September 1, 2015 was the very first time she
ever had the chickens at the Loudonville Apartment. She said
she was compelled to move the chickens that day because
rodents were killing them. Paul was unable to remember when
rodents killed any of the chickens, or how many were killed.
Paul testified the van she drove had eight total windows,
including the windshield and back window. The other six
windows she said were open. This included the two
conventional roll-down windows for the driver and front
passenger, as well as four tilt-out windows on the sides of
the van. Several of the windows were tinted.
Paul was found guilty after a bench trial of animal cruelty
in violation of Loudonville Ordinance 618.05(A) (2), a
second-degree misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced Paul to
ninety days in jail, consecutive with the thirty days she was
already ordered to serve for failure to previously appear.
Seventy days were suspended pending successful completion of
two years' probation. Paul was fined $100 plus court
"I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY FINDING THE APPELLANT
GUILTY WHEN THE FINDING WAS AGAINST THE ...