Woman who moved and left dogs to die in the cold pleads guilty

A St. Clair Twp. woman charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor crimes for neglecting her dogs during last winter’s frigid weather has pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

Melissa Damico was indicted in February on three felony counts of cruelty to companion animals and four misdemeanor charges of the same crime. She pleaded guilty to seven misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in August, according to Butler County court records.

FIRST REPORT: 3 dead dogs, 4 malnourished dogs lead to felony charges

Butler County Common Pleas Judge Noah Powers has set sentencing for Sept. 25. Each charge carries a maximum of 180 days in jail.

Damico is free on bond.

The 46-year-old Damico was arrested Jan. 7 after a welfare check was conducted at 3700 Morganthaler Road in St. Clair Twp. by county humane officers, who found three dogs dead due to neglect and cold weather, while four other dogs were found alive but severely malnourished.

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Butler County Dog Warden Supervisor Kurt Merbs said Damico had moved to a new home, abandoning the seven dogs. There was no food, water or appropriate shelter from the weather for the animals, he said.

The surviving dogs, all Chihuahua mixed breeds, were taken to the Animal Friends Humane Society to recover.

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