The news of a former Warren Correctional Institution inmate being indicted in the death of a companion animal that he was training brought reaction from the group that worked with the prison’s dog training program.
“We could not be happier that we can put this to rest,” said Meg Melampy, president of Joseph’s Legacy, a Middletown-based rescue agency. “But reading all of this again has only brought back the all the emotions again.”
When she heard about inmate Benjamin Holliday being indicted on the fifth-degree felony, she said “Evie did not die in vain. It’s awful. She was there to make a difference.”
She also said that when Holliday does return to Warren County for trial, there will be people from her organization in the courtroom.
Melampy said the organization had been working with WCI for less than two years and had about 12 to 15 dogs trained there with some success. She said Joseph’s Legacy replaced another animal rescue organization that had been at WCI.
Spokesperson JoEllen Smith of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said animal training programs are still in operation at other Ohio prisons.
After the incident at WCI, the ODRC formed a committee to review the dog programs throughout the agency.
“This committee is working on developing a standardized policy for these programs that will focus on the well-being and care of the animals,” Smith said. “We anticipate that this policy will be in place by the end of January.”
Holliday, 31, is charged with prohibitions concerning companion animals, a fifth-degree felony, according to the grand jury report. He was an inmate at WCI on Aug. 25 when he allegedly caused the death of a companion animal, according to the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office.
No arraignment date has been scheduled for Holliday in Warren County Common Pleas Court as of Monday.
Evie was discovered beaten to death inside a cell at the prison. The 4-year-old female German Shepherd-Elkhound mixed breed died from “blunt force trauma to her abdomen, causing her liver to hemorrhage, and her kidney was also damaged,” according to Joseph’s Legacy.
She had been in the program as part of the group’s efforts to prepare her for adoption. Evie had been flea-infested, hobbled by a broken hip and nursing two puppies when rescuers found her.
“Nothing has ever happened like this,” Melampy said at the time after Evie’s death. “We’re all just distraught.”
Joseph’s Legacy withdrew all of its dogs from the animal-assisted inmate rehabilitation program after Evie’s death. The rescue agency also called for public support to get “Justice for Evie” in a Sept. 2 Facebook post.
The program had been at the prison for more than 20 years and the prison had worked with other organizations.
State prison records show that Holliday is currently incarcerated at Madison Correctional Institution. He’s serving a prison sentence of more than nine years for robbery, burglary and receiving stolen property in Lucas County. He will be eligible for early release in 2022.
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