Judge continues animal cruelty case

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, August 6, 2014

COURTLAND—The case of a Southampton County man charged with cruelty to animals has been continued in order that a judge can hear testimony at the same time as that of the accused’s daughter, who is charged with the same misdemeanor.

Calvin Artis of the 4000 block of Hicks Ford Road, briefly appeared in Southampton County District Court on Tuesday afternoon. He was to answer for the charge, which dates to March 6. Coincidentally, his daughter, Stephanie Battle of the same address, was called right before Artis. She had not yet been served.

On realizing the connection, Judge Parker Councill decided to combine the two cases. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 7.

Ready to give testimony were Laura R. Brown and Daphna Nachminovitch, both of the animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which is based in Norfolk. Brown is an animal sheltering and care specialist and Nachminovitch is senior vice president of cruelty investigations.

Nachminovitch explained to The Tidewater News that she and Brown were on 58 east on the aforementioned date returning from a trip to North Carolina when they saw a dog wandering the highway. Hoping the animal lived nearby and could be returned to its owner, they were able to secure the dog in their vehicle and started searching on Hicks Ford Road.

“We went from house to house to house,” she said.

Their mission led them to the Artis residence, where they met Shirley Battle — who is not charged — and her daughter, Stephanie. They confirmed that the dog’s mother was in the backyard. Calvin Artis appeared and, with Stephanie, they led Brown and Nachminovitch outside.

They went to that animal, called “Peaches,” and found the 5-year-old chained to a makeshift dog house.

Getting close to the dog, Nachminovitch said she quickly noticed “an overpowering smell of infection.” She and Brown then discovered that the collar was embedded into the animal’s neck. The wound was later measured at 1-1/2 inches deep.

Nachminovitch said she and Brown were told by the father and daughter that they knew of the injury, but didn’t seem at all surprised by what was found that day.

Also noticed was the lack of food and water, as well as attention, based on how the dog shied away from the people, rather than approaching them. Nachminovitch said she based her observations on several years of experience in animal cruelty cases.

Artis and Battle readily gave up the animal to the women’s care. An examination was done later at the shelter in Norfolk. It was determined that Peaches had to be euthanized. The infection was too far along to save her.

Artis and Battle made no statement in court or afterward.