TERRE HAUTE, Ind (WTHI) - Animal control officers seized three pit bulls – one male, and two females – from the backyard of a Terre Haute home during the heat of the day Tuesday; with little food, and not a drop of water.
Animal control officers do not have arrest powers, but are still able to slap the dogs’ owner, Jay Johnson, 23, with three city citations for animal cruelty, given the condition of the three pits and how they were being housed.
"This is what we saw when we arrived on scene,” said animal control officer Laurie Tharp, as she showed News 10 still pictures of the animals and their habitat.
Her pictures displayed several outdoor wooden transport boxes, what Tharp called them, the doors padlocked and most every ventilation hole on the boxes had been filled in.
"When we opened this bottom box, it was like opening an oven door! And the heat just rolled out,” said Tharp.
She described the condition of the dogs, the male pit bull being in the worst shape: unable to walk, according to Tharp, and at death’s door.
"His body temperature was 105.5 degrees -- anything over 105 can cause brain damage, can cause our organs to shut-down; anything after 106, they'll start stroking-out and usually die! Thirty more minutes of this dog being in this situation -- he would have died,” Tharp said.
By Wednesday, all three dogs had been transported to the Terre Haute Humane Society’s shelter where they’ll be nursed back to health and held as evidence in a case the city is building against Jay Johnson.
Johnson would not do an on-camera interview, but told News 10 via telephone that he’d only been renting the house at 1227 South 11th Street less than a month. Johnson said he’s employed as a customer representative by AT&T.
In his own defense, Johnson said he loves his dogs, and that he’d only left them locked away Tuesday afternoon for roughly 30 minutes, while he ran an errand.
He additionally denied any suggestion that he’s running a pit bull breeding puppy mill; though animal control says the young female dog picked up at Johnson’s has a fairly recent litter of puppies, based on her breast milk, and Johnson cannot account for the young animals.
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The Turkey Run State Parke suspension bridge over Sugar Creek will close Dec. 12 through Dec. 20 for the replacement of a staircase on the north end.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is preparing for the winter storm moving into the Wabash Valley starting Thursday afternoon.
The Vigo County School Corporation has announced that all VCSC buildings will be closed by 6 p.m. Thursday. All athletic events, both home and away, will be canceled and postponed until a later date.
On Tuesday, Mayor Duke Bennett handed out art grants to local organizations across the city of Terre Haute.