A 41-year-old Lakewood resident took a plea deal in court Friday barring him from owning any dogs and requiring him to have a mental health assessment following the removal of more than of 40 beagles found living in "extremely unsatisfactory conditions" on his property last month. As part of the plea deal, the man will be placed in a five-year diversion program in lieu of jail time.
According to the City of Lakewood, the man pleaded guilty to multiple counts of animal cruelty. The man will also be required to pay restitution for the money the city spent caring for the animals once they were removed and to undergo grief counseling to "address underlying causes of his behavior." Furthermore, he will need to attend classes on the ethical treatment of animals. If he violates any parts of the plea deal, he could face up to 18 months in jail.
“By resolving the case in this manner, the City was able to secure guilty pleas to serious charges, which require the defendant to pay restitution and to comply with the terms of the diversion program structured to hold the defendant accountable, to prevent future offenses by him, and to deter such crimes in the community,” said Lakewood Law Director Ernie Vargo.
On Dec. 19, Lakewood Police executed a search warrant at a home in the 1600 block of Waterbury Road following numerous complaints of a multitude of dogs living there.
The Lakewood Police Department Animal Control Unit and the Rocky River Animal Control Unit removed the animals from the home and the dogs were taken to the Lakewood Animal Shelter.
Authorities said due to the condition of the home, the property was deemed uninhabitable.
Currently, the dogs are being housed at the Lakewood Animal Shelter. The next step is to find homes for the beagles.
"We are happy that the court case is fully resolved, which allows us to get the dogs one step further to being stabilized in long-term, loving homes,” said Elaine Hearn, supervisor of the Lakewood Animal Shelter.
You can watch more about the beagles being rescued in the player below:
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