3 felony animal cruelty cases showcase more serious charges available in Ohio

A Middletown woman jailed and charged with felony animal cruelty after several dead animals were found in her backyard is the third person in five months charged with felony animal cruelty in Butler County.

The county dog warden’s office received information last week advising that there were dead dogs in the yard at the residence in the 13oo block of Oxford State Road.

IN-DEPTH: Frozen and abandoned dogs have saddened the community. Here’s how dog wardens try to protect them.

Four dogs were observed by the humane officers when they arrived on Feb. 16. Two of the dogs were found in dog houses and another one was found in a black plastic tote along with a decapitated dog’s head, according to the sheriff’s office. The owner, Tina Marie Jackson, said she ran out of dog food and she never provided bedding in the dog houses to keep the dogs warm. She did not offer an explanation for the decapitated dog.

ExploreFULL REPORT: Middletown woman charged with felony animal cruelty after dogs starve, with one decapitated

The charge of cruelty to a companion animal had been a first-degree misdemeanor for years, with a maximum sentence of 180 days. Now classified as a felony, the charge carries a sentence of up to 12 months in prison in some cases. The law changed in September 2016.

In January, Melissa Damico, 46, of St. Clair Twp. was arrested on multiple charges after allegedly neglecting dogs in the bitter cold weather.

Earlier this month, Damico was indicted by a Butler County grand on three felony and four misdemeanor charges after allegedly neglecting dogs in the cold January weather.

Melissa Damico, 46, was indicted today by a Butler County grand jury on three felony charges of cruelty to companion animals and first-degree misdemeanor counts of the same charge.

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 deceased due to neglect and cold weather, while four other dogs were found alive but severely malnourished.

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

Damico is free on bond and is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 27 in Butler County Common Pleas Judge Noah Power’s courtroom.

In September, Kevin L. Sullivan, 32, of Howard Avenue in Middletown, was arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty after he allegedly set a cat on fire.

Sullivan’s bond of $50,000 set by the judge last week was continued. Standard bond for such a fifth-degree felony is $5,000.

PREVIOUS REPORT: High bond set for man accused of setting cat on fire

Middletown police and Butler County Deputy Dog Warden Jamie Hearlihy were dispatched Sept. 18 to Howard Avenue near Arlington Avenue, where the fire department had put out the cat that was ablaze.

A police officer shot the cat to put it out of its misery, according to a police report.

Samples taken from the cat and the blanket used to smother the fire indicated that lighter fluid was used, according to court records.

Police said Sullivan initially lied to them about his involvement, but an investigation by Middletown police and the dog warden’s office led back to him as a suspect.

Sullivan was indicted by a Butler County grand jury in January and arraigned earlier this month after posting $50.000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Butler County Common Pleas Judge Charles Pater’s courtroom March 6 for a pre-trial hearing.

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