Updated: 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, 2013 | Posted: 2:08 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hamilton woman sentenced in animal cruelty case

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Hamilton woman sentenced in animal cruelty case photo
Elizabeth Lewis

By Lauren Pack

Staff Writer

HAMILTON —

A Hamilton woman will begin serving a 90-day jail sentence Friday after pleading no contest to cruelty to animals for starving a dog earlier this year.

Elizabeth Lewis, 19, formerly of Timberhill Drive, who is expecting the birth of her baby in a few months, was found guilty today by Hamilton Municipal Court Judge Daniel Gattermeyer after he heard the facts of the case.

Hamilton Prosecutor Geoff Modderman said Bruiser, the pit bull/shepherd mix dog in Lewis’ care on Feb. 25, was “extremely emaciated” and dehydrated.

“The dog was so malnourished there was no tissue around its bones,” Modderman said. The dog had to be euthanized to end its suffering, he said.

Outside the Butler County Government Services Center and inside the courtroom, animal lovers and supports of tougher animal cruelty laws wore bright “Justice for Bruiser” T-shirts. They also picketed for an hour before the hearing, receiving many honks of support from passing drivers.

Lewis’ attorney, Ramona Daniels, said Lewis was barely making rent and could not afford to pay for veterinary bills to care for the dog that had a medical condition.

“But he was not consistently thin,” Daniels said. Lewis made statements that she knew it was selfish to try to care for the dog at home, the attorney added.

Brewer’s mother, who did not give her name, said the dog had a medical condition and would put on weight, then lose weight.

“Nothing seemed to work on him,” the woman said. “It was not intentional.”

In his ruling, Gattermeyer said “the dog did suffer” and sentenced Lewis to the maximum of 180 days in the Butler County Jail but suspended half of the time behind bars.

Lewis was also placed on two years of community control, ordered to get her GED, not to have pets and to pay a $500 fine. The judge reminded her if she did not show up for jail Friday, she would serve the entire 180 days.

There were cheers from about 20 Bruiser supporters outside the courtroom who have attended each of Lewis’ court hearings, even braving the bitter cold and snow.

Ashley Sammons, of Hamilton, who is a teacher, said Lewis is so young and she is hopeful students in schools are taught respect for animals.

“I want to see stricter penalties (for animal abusers),” Sammons said. She added she does not believe there can been any true justice for Bruiser because he is dead.

“Unfortunately he had to suffer to help other animals,” she said.

“I’ll take 90 days, “ said Meg Stephenson, executive director of Animal Friends Human Society, who had custody of Bruiser the first time Lewis was accused of abusing the dog. She said she was concerned the entire sentence would be suspended.

Last summer, Lewis faced an animal cruelty charge for the alleged mistreatment of Bruiser.

The dog was brought to the animal shelter in August by a dog warden. At that time, Bruiser was lethargic, malnourished and weighed 17 pounds.

In October, Lewis was found not guilty of that animal cruelty charge by Gattermeyer following a bench trial. Because Lewis was not convicted, the shelter had to return the dog to her.

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