Cruelty added to list of charges against dog owner

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 12, 2007

COURTLAND—A trial for an outspoken opponent of Southampton County’s animal control laws has been postponed until at least January. Meanwhile, police have added cruelty to animals to the list of charges the Branchville woman faces.

Annette M. Dooley was absent from court last week when prosecutors asked General District Court Judge Robert B. Edwards to continue her case. They did not publicly explain why the case was delayed.

A search of court records, though, shows that the list of charges that ultimately stem from a September raid on her Branchville property continues to grow.

When deputies and a state veterinarian raided the property in September, they found 13 adult dogs that lacked licenses and 11 puppies, according to an affidavit filed Nov. 27 in Southampton Circuit Court.

Dr. Dana Miller, a field veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Community Services, found that nine of the puppies &uot;demonstrate the need for urgent veterinary care due to the nature of their condition,&uot; the affidavit states. The dogs lacked adequate care, based on parasitic infestations and nutritional issues, police said at the time.

Deputies charged Dooley with nine counts of failing to provide adequate veterinary care and three counts of selling an unweaned puppy as a result of their September raid.

One dog in particular, &uot;Cherry,&uot; a red adult female, was in especially poor health, and Miller had recommended that it be taken to the vet within a week. The dog had skin irritations, era infections, swollen and cracked footpads and mange, police said.

Miller told Dooley and deputies that &uot;continued failure to provide veterinary care would &uot;likely result in worsening of their conditions to a potentially life-threatening level,&uot; according to the affidavit, which was filed in support of an application for a search warrant executed Nov. 27.

She also suggested that the sheriff’s office follow up to make sure that Cherry and the puppies received proper medical attention.

Police sought the newest search warrant last month, after having no contact from Dooley regarding the pets’ care and after calls to area veterinarians turned up no evidence that she had taken the dogs to be treated, the affidavit states.

When Miller and police returned to the property with another search warrant last month, they found that Cherry’s condition had deteriorated and that she had &uot;advanced life-threatening conditions, including loss of weight,&uot; Morris said Tuesday. Those conditions prompted police to charge her with cruelty to animals.

Police confiscated the dog and took it to a local vet for treatment, Morris said. Cherry will remain under professional care until a court decides whether to return her to Dooley or put her up for adoption, he added. The dog’s condition continues to improve under the vet’s care.

Dooley’s cases have been set for review Jan. 15.

In past court appearances to answer charges that she had too many dogs on her property, Dooley has been combative and openly disdainful of both prosecutors and deputies.

She said in a July interview that she intended to reduce the number of dogs on her property to &uot;five or six,&uot; still over the limit allowed under Southampton’s zoning laws.

&uot;The county can’t do anything about it,&uot; she said then.