Updated: 5:07 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | Posted: 1:53 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, 2013

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Animal lovers protest outside Hamilton court

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Animal lovers protest outside Hamilton court photo
Rebecca Hicks (left) holds a sign with fellow protesters outside the Government Services Center in protest of Elizabeth Lewis, a Hamilton woman accused of starving her dog Bruiser to death. Lewis was arraigned in Hamilton Municipal Court Judge Dan Gattermeyer’s courtroom Wednesday.
Animal lovers protest outside Hamilton court photo
Melissa Gruenhagen (left) and Pam Dewitt protest Wednesday during the arraignment hearing for a Hamilton woman accused of starving her dog to death.
Animal lovers protest outside Hamilton court photo
Elizabeth Lewis goes over paperwork with Bailiff Terry Roberts during her arraignment hearing Wednesday morning. Lewis, of Hamilton, is accused of starving her dog Bruiser to death.

By Lauren Pack

Staff Writer

HAMILTON —

Snow and freezing temperatures Wednesday didn’t keep about 20 picketers from showing their support of a dog that officials said starved to death in the care of a Hamilton woman.

At 7 a.m., animal lovers holding signs, some with pictures of the now deceased Bruiser and others declaring “Hell hath no fury like angry dog lovers” and “Animal abusers are losers” gathered on High Street outside the court building where Elizabeth Lewis was scheduled to appear.

Lewis, 19, of Timberhill Drive, was charged last week by Assistant Butler County Dog Warden Tonya Henson with cruelty to a companion animal and failure to license a dog the day after the emaciated pit bull mix crawled out of her apartment.

“I am here to speak for Bruiser,” said Lisa Holbrook of Fairfield. One protester, dressed in a dog costume, waived at traffic and drivers responded with honks.

Debbie Christian traveled from Warren County to take part in the protest.

“I wouldn’t have missed it,” Christian said. “The animal cruelty laws in Ohio are lax. But the justice system needs to at least enforce the laws that we have.”

Kelli Arnette of Hamilton said, “I am tired of people abusing animals. She knew the dog was going downhill and didn’t do anything. She (Lewis) needs to get jail time.”

This is the second animal cruelty charge for Lewis, who was found not guilty in October in Hamilton Municipal Court of animal cruelty involving the same dog. Bruiser was in the care of Butler County Animal Friends Humane Society for two months during that pending first case. When the dog was returned to Lewis, he weighted 38 pounds, according to Meg Stephenson, executive director of the humane society.

Lewis, who was escorted to and from the courtroom by police officers, asked Judge Dan Gattermeyer for a court appointed attorney during the short arraignment. The judge appointed an attorney and scheduled a pre-trial hearing for March 13. Gattermeyer ordered the woman not to own any pets and released her on her own recognizance.

She faces a 180-day jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.

According to the statement of facts read in court, on Feb. 25 Henson ordered Lewis to euthanize Bruiser to end the dog’s suffering. When Henson asked why she let the dog get in such bad condition, Lewis said, “I don’t know, it was selfish of me. I realize that now.”

Henson visited the veterinarian the day after Brusier was euthanized. She was told that Bruiser’s body temperature, before he was put to sleep, was so low it didn’t register on a thermometer, and the condition of the dog was a direct result of starvation.

Henson has also taken custody of a second dog that was in Lewis’ care.

Lewis told the JournalNews last week that Bruiser was her baby, and she did what she was financially able to do to help him. Lewis said Bruiser had hereditary mange and worms that made him sick.

“I didn’t have the money to take him to the vet,” Lewis said, adding the dog’s health went up and down. “He would gain weight and be OK for a few weeks then start losing again. I thought he would snap out of it. I had hope for him.”

She declined comment after the court hearing.

 
 

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