“In this case the cruelty that these dogs were subjected to was established more than anything by the photographic evidence in the case,” Gattermeyer said. “The dogs were emaciated, dehydrated to the point it was very difficult just to look at the pictures of them … It was clear these dogs had been subjected to cruelty.”
Merbs said at trial that when he picked up Porsche to take her to his truck, he became aware of the odor from large, open sores under her front forearms. She was dressed in a T-shirt, which initially hid the sores and her thin condition, he said. There was no bedding on the plywood floor, but there was dog food in planters.
During later questioning, Merbs said Trauthwein admitted he owned the dogs. Merbs said Trauthwein mentioned the dogs had fleas, maybe cancer, and that he could not afford care for them.
At trial, Trauthwein testified in his own defense, and admitted to calling 911 and lying about being the owner of the dogs because he had been told if he had had them for longer, he would be considered the owner.
“I royally messed up on that one,” Trauthwein said. “I felt like I had no choice. I was stuck and they were getting worse by the day.”
Trauthwein said he called some agencies and veterinary clinics, but got no help.
“Everybody wanted money, and I didn’t have a license to drive them anywhere,” he said.
Trauthwein said he did feed the dogs, but they began loosing weight after a flea infestation in the house. He said he also believes “his girls” suffered from separation anxiety when they had to be moved to another area of the house.
Merbs testified there is a fee to surrender animals to the animal shelter, but he would not have let dogs in Porsche and Chloe’s condition leave even if there was no payment.
Gattermeyer said he found the prosecution’s witnesses very credible, compared to the defendant.
“When a person comes into court and says … I lied about this. I lied about that and about that, but now I am here telling you the truth, it is difficult for the court to hear that testimony and take it into consideration,” Gattermeyer said.
The judge also noted there were opportunities for Trauthwein to get the dogs help through family or friends.
While listening to the judge, Trauthwein mouthed “wow” several times.
Gattermeyer sentenced Trauthwein to 180 days in jail on the first count involving Porsche. He stayed 90 days and gave Trauthwein credit for five days already served. Trauthwein was placed on two years reporting probation and told not to own animals. He was given the same sentence on the second charge and it is to be be served concurrently to the first sentence.
Trauthwein was taken into custody in the courtroom. Both dogs have since recovered and have been adopted.