South Bend dog owner pleads guilty to animal cruelty
(Photo provided) (March 22, 2012)
Antoine Allen Murray, 28, pleaded guilty Thursday to three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty stemming from the case of animal abuse that surfaced in May last year when South Bend Animal Control officers found two severely malnourished Presa Canario dogs and a third Presa Canario dead and partially eaten inside a home in the 2500 block of Westmoor Street.
The body of a fourth dog also was discovered in a side-yard dog house outside the home.
Murray, who faces up to a year in jail on each Class A misdemeanor count when he returns to St. Joseph Traffic and Misdemeanor Court for sentencing April 24, declined comment outside the courtroom following his plea in front of Magistrate Richard L. McCormick.
Public defender James Korpal told the magistrate the house and the dogs were abandoned in March when Murray “found it necessary to leave South Bend” and he couldn’t find anybody to take care of the animals.
Korpal said Murray attempted to coax an acquaintance to care for the dogs after he had left town, “but the woman said she couldn’t take care of the animals ... and he couldn’t come back.”
Animal Control supervisor Kim Lucas responded May 12 to a neighbor’s phone tip that dogs were alive in the abandoned home and found two brindle Presas in the living room feeding off a dead third Presa.
Lucas, at the time, said there was no way to tell how the dog had died.
The pair of “cannibalizing” Presas were emaciated and likely survived on water that spilled from a broken pipe in the house, Lucas said.
She described the basement of the home as “wall-to-wall” with feces.
Police searched the home and recovered a shotgun along with shotgun shells.
Both surviving Presas were taken to the Animal Control shelter on Olive Road.
They were euthanized three weeks later — after an Elkhart couple said they wanted to adopt one of the dogs.
In addition to facing a maximum one year in county jail on each count, a sentence the magistrate indicated he would set to run concurrently, Murray also faces up to $5,000 in fines.
A fourth count, driving with an altered license plate, was dismissed.
Deputy Prosecutor Alex Winski prosecuted the case.
Staff writer Jeff Harrell: