Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Lake
Appeal from the Willoughby Municipal Court, Case No. 2016 CRB
Jeffrey Holland, Holland & Muirden, 143 Sharon-Copley
Road, P.O. Box 345, Sharon Center, OH 44274 (For
Charles R. Grieshammer, Lake County Public Defender, and
Vanessa R. Clapp, Assistant Public Defender, 125 East Erie
Street, Painesville, OH 44077 (For Defendant-Appellant).
V. GRENDELL, J.
Defendant-appellant, David Taylor, appeals from the judgment
of the Willoughby Municipal Court, finding him guilty of
Cruelty to Companion Animals. The issues to be determined by
this court are whether the expert testimony of a veterinarian
is admissible when he opines about the length of time medical
conditions may have been present in a dog and whether a
conviction for Cruelty to Companion Animals is supported by
the weight of the evidence when testimony shows that the dog
was suffering from several treatable medical conditions, and
lived outside in a yard filled with debris, nails, and broken
glass. For the following reasons, we affirm the decision of
the lower court.
On September 28, 2016, complaints were filed in Case Nos.
2016 CRB 03785A-F, charging Taylor with six counts of Cruelty
to Companion Animals, misdemeanors of the second degree, in
violation of former R.C. 959.131(C)(2) and (3). Additional
complaints were filed on October 5, 2016, in Case Nos. 2016
CRB 03785G-I, charging Taylor with three counts of Cruelty to
Companion Animals, misdemeanors of the second degree, in
violation of R.C. 959.131(D)(1).
A bench trial was held on February 9, 2017. The following
pertinent testimony was presented.
Kasey Locotosh, a friend of Taylor's, testified that she
had gone to a get together at Taylor's house around July
4, 2016, at which time Taylor's four dogs, Ariel, Earp,
Igor, and Emilia were located in the yard. She noticed that
Ariel looked sick and was scratching and shaking. Locotosh
informed Taylor. When Locotosh returned in August, she
noticed no change in Ariel's condition. She observed that
the yard where the dogs were kept had little room to run and
she saw no shelter other than underneath a trailer. She noted
clutter and trash in the yard, as well as glass and nails on
In September, Taylor was scheduled to serve a jail term and,
according to Locotosh, his live-in girlfriend, Susan Bradley,
was supposed to take care of the dogs. A few days after he
was incarcerated, Bradley told Locotosh she was leaving and
Locotosh agreed to care for the dogs. She did so for
approximately five days until she was locked out of the home
by Taylor's son. During that time, she took Earp from the
home, based on previous permission granted by Taylor. When
Locotosh obtained a dog license for Earp, she showed pictures
of the three other dogs to the dog warden and the Humane
Society was contacted.
Johnny Jarrell, Locotosh's boyfriend and Taylor's
friend, also noticed that Ariel looked ill and reported this
to Taylor, who told him not to worry. Both Jarrell and
Locotosh testified that they had been in a business
relationship with Taylor before he went to jail and that the
parties had some disagreements.
Leanne Pike, an agent for the Lake Humane Society,
investigated the matter after she was contacted by the dog
warden. She obtained a search warrant, observed the three
dogs in poor condition, chewing and scratching themselves,
and saw that they were covered with flies and fleas. Pike
testified that the yard where they were living was difficult
to navigate due to items laying around, pieces of dog feces
were scattered about and debris, broken glass, and nails were
found on the ground. She testified that "the flies were
landing on [Igor] the worst out of all of them" and that
his ears were bloody, scabbed, and "in terrible
shape." He had open scabs on his body. She saw signs of
obvious neglect given the dogs' physical condition,
filthy water, and lack of access to food. Although Taylor
later said he was treating the flies by using a Skin So Soft
spray, she believed this was inappropriate care for the
condition. Bradley told Pike that Taylor would forget to feed
the dogs at times for two or three days.
Dr. Alvin Brown, the shelter veterinarian for the Lake County
Humane Society with over 40 years of veterinary experience,
treated Ariel and her two young dogs, Igor and Emilia, after
they were removed from Taylor's property. Dr. Brown
described all three dogs as "significantly
Dr. Brown testified that Igor had a chronic and "pretty
severe" infestation of ear mites, which he would have
gotten when he was in a "litter situation" with
close, intimate contact. He believed that Igor had them for
"a significant period of time, " at least six or
seven months. Igor would have been excessively shaking his
head during that time, which would have been obvious to a
"reasonable pet owner." Dr. Brown testified that he
has the training to tell how long an ear mite infestation has
been present and that he could do so "easily."
Dr. Brown also explained that Igor was covered in flies,
which is not typical and indicates that he was housed
improperly. He noted that fly bites can cause animals to
suffer unnecessarily. Igor also had "fly-strike"
which occurs when a dog flips his head back and forth to
shake flies off of its ears. This causes the ears to become
nicked, bleed, and scabbed. He described this condition as
"very uncomfortable, " and something that does not
happen overnight or in a period of a week. Dr. Brown believed
that a reasonable owner would have been aware of these issues
"for a long period of time." Dr. Brown indicated
that all three dogs also had fleas, which caused scratching
and chewing at themselves.
Igor also had a "severe infestation" of whipworms.
These result from dogs coming into contact with stool, which
often occurs when a dog is in unhealthy or "filthy"
conditions. Dr. Brown noted the large number of eggs present
and opined that Igor had this condition for "at least
six months." Whipworms prevent dogs ...