Woman faces criminal charges for rescuing starving dog

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WCMH) — A dog rescued in Scioto County was so emaciated, an official said it lost half of its body weight. That official, Rhonda Rose from the Scioto Area Humane Society, said she rescued the dog at the last minute, only to be charged with two crimes.

Rose works as the Treasurer of the Humane Society. She has been charged with criminal trespass and petty theft after rescuing the dog.

More than a dozen supporters showed up and marched near the front doors of the Portsmouth Municipal Courthouse to protest her being charged.

“This has got to stop, animals are dying,” Rose said.

Rose was charged eight days after she says she fed the dog, took it to the vet and called the sheriff’s office for help on October 8th.

“When I took the dog I took it to the vet and the vet verified it was starvation,” Rose said.

Captain Robert Woodward with the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office would not say why Rose was charged and said he could not talk about the case because it was ongoing. City Solicitor John Haas would not discuss it either, but did say Rose has a history with the court system. According to the common pleas court docket, she had four past civil cases, but none were marked as animal cases.

Ohio law does allow any person to enter and remove an animal if they suspect neglect.

“Even as a private citizen, Ms. Rose was within that statutory privilege in removing the animal she removed,” said John Bell, Rose’s defense attorney.

He and Rose said they are referring to Ohio Revised Code, 1717.13, which reads:

When, in order to protect any animal from neglect, it is necessary to take possession of it, any person may do so. When an animal is impounded or confined, and continues without necessary food, water, or proper attention for more than fifteen successive hours, any person may, as often as is necessary, enter any place in which the animal is impounded or confined and supply it with necessary food, water, and attention, so long as it remains there, or, if necessary, or convenient, he may remove such animal; and he shall not be liable to an action for such entry. In all cases the owner or custodian of such animal, if known to such person, immediately shall be notified by him of such action. If the owner or custodian is unknown to such person, and cannot with reasonable effort be ascertained by him, such animal shall be considered a stray and dealt with as such.

The necessary expenses for food and attention given to an animal under this section may be collected from the owner of such animal, and the animal shall not be exempt from levy and sale upon execution issued upon a judgment for such expenses.

Rose said she did the right thing.

“The dog is now in Kentucky on a 100-acre farm, gained weight, it weighed 61 pounds, it now weighs 120 pounds and is doing great,” said Rose.

She is due back in court on February 13 for a status report and her trial is set to begin on February 20th. Both charges are misdemeanors.