A South Carolina made has been arrested on animal cruelty charges after police said he taped the mouth of his dog shut with electrical tape. The dog, a 15-month-old chocolate Staffordshire named Caitlyn, was found last week by neighbors, according to the Post and Courier of Charleston.
The dog’s owner, William Leonard Dodson, 41, of North Charleston, was released Tuesday after posting $50,000 bail. The cruelty charged carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine up to $5,000, according to state law.
Caitlyn is recovering, according to the Charleston Animal Society, which posted on Facebook Tuesday night, “…everyone please say an extra prayer and send positive energy to Caitlyn tonight! Her tongue is looking really good it seems to have responded well to the hyperbaric oxygen and laser therapy. But her lips are going to need surgery to repair the damage done by the electrical tape.”
She is scheduled for surgery Wednesday morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Caitlyn’s Tongue Was Trapped Between Her Teeth, Possibly for Days
Caitlyn was found by a neighbor with her muzzle taped shut after being stuck with her tongue stuck between her teeth for as long as two days, according to the Charleston Animal Society. The dog had last been seen on Memorial Day by neighbors, and turned up early Wednesday morning on the Good Samaritan’s doorstep, the animal society said.
The black electrical tape was tightly wound around Caitlyn’s muzzle. “The tape was so tight, that Caitlyn’s tongue was caught between her teeth, stopping blood flow to her tongue,” the animal society said in a Facebook post.
“Caitlyn is in a lot of pain, her condition is critical, and her prognosis is guarded,” said Charleston Animal Society Senior Director of Veterinary Care, Dr. Lucy Fuller, after the dog was found. “A large part of her tongue may need to be removed surgically if the tissue dies from the lack of blood flow. She may be severely disfigured, or the large amount of dead tissue may cause life-threatening complications.”
Caitlyn was taken to a specialty veterinarian for treatment as her story spread nationwide.
“This is the most malicious case of animal abuse I have seen in my entire career,” said Aldwin Roman, the Charleston Animal Society’s Director of Anti-Cruelty & Outreach, in a statement. “to leave this dog in pain, unable to eat or drink and to now leave her in the position where her life is at stake because she may lose her tongue is heartbreaking.”
2. Dodson Said the Dog Wouldn’t Stop Barking & Laughed About Taping Her Mouth, a Witness Says
Court documents obtained by WCSC reveal that a witness told police Dodson taped Caitlyn’s mouth shut because she wouldn’t stop barking. The witness said Dodson was laughing about taping her mouth closed. He said he chained the dog to the fence Monday, but she broke free and escaped. She was found two days later.
The dog, formerly known as Diamond, was bought by Dodson for $25 on May 25, according to the witness.
3. He Was Ordered to Give-Up Another Dog He Owns
After setting Dodson’s bond in the animal cruelty case at $50,000, a judge also ordered that Dodson give up another dog that he owns, which was still in his home, according to the Post and Courier.
Dodson later posted bond and was released.
Dodson was free on $100,000 bond in an unrelated at the time of his arrest, according to Charleston County court records. He was arrested March 10 and charged with possession of cocaine and unlawful carrying of a pistol.
“We are supportive of the NCPD’s investigation and hope justice will be served in this case. We are eager for whomever committed this crime to be held accountable and punished to the fullest extent of the law, which continues to be one of the nation’s weakest,” the Charleston Animal Society said in a statement on Dodson’s arrest.
4. Caitlyn Is Recovering With a Local Animal Society
Caitlyn is continuing to recover with a local animal society after receiving several treatments. She will undergo surgery next week to repair her face and tongue.
“She’s had three full meals. She’s been able to (take in food) and swallow it,” Kelli Klein, the director at Veterinary Specialty Care, told WDTN.
The Charleston Animal Society said Monday in a Facebook post:
Caitlyn continues to recover from her ordeal, but she is still hospitalized. She has graduated from intravenous fluids and antibiotics to normal food and oral medications. She continues to receive hyperbaric treatments to improve the health of the damaged tissue in her mouth and cold laser therapy to promote healing. She underwent a small surgical procedure on her lip yesterday, but there is not currently a procedure planned for her tongue. We are still waiting to see how well her body will heal on its own.
We have the greatest of hopes for this beautiful girl!
5. The Dog’s Treatment Is Being Paid for by a Local Charity
Caitlyn’s care is being paid for by a local charity fund set-up by the Charleston Animal Society, called Toby’s Fund.
“Toby is a beautiful golden retriever mix who came to us suffering from chemical burns over a large portion of his body. Despite his dire condition, our medical team could see the fight in his eyes and proceeded with weeks of intense treatment,” the animal society says on its website. “He bounced back stronger than ever and Toby was quickly adopted by a new loving family. His story inspired all of us at the shelter, just like so many of the other animals that now benefit from our fund named in his honor.”
Donations can be made to Toby’s Fund here.