A rapidly evolving story surrounding a dog that was allegedly mistreated and later disappeared seems to have a happy ending.
Bastrop Police Chief Downey Black said the owner of the female pit bull was issued a citation for animal cruelty Wednesday. The dog owner told officers in a follow up visit Thursday he had given the dog to a family member who pledged to provide adequate care for the animal.
Cornellus Boyette, 31, of 1318 Van Ave., was issued a citation for animal cruelty. Black said Boyette told officers he had “given the dog to a family member who lives outside Morehouse Parish. We’re in the process of verifying that information.”
Minday Sanders Diffenderfer, a member of the Morehouse Humane Society board of directors, used social media Wednesday to bring attention to the dog and the conditions in which it was discovered. Nearly 150 responses to the initial post came from residents of Bastrop and Morehouse Parish as well as across Louisiana and from a half dozen other states. Diffenderfer said Thursday City Hall was bombarded with calls from all over the state and out of state.”
There appeared to be confusion about what role the city’s animal control officer (ACO) could play in the process of seeing the dog received adequate care. Sherman Burrell, chief of staff for Mayor Arthur Jones, said the ACO was not going to seize the dog “because people decided they no longer want it.”
But Linda Hayman, who met with Burrell and other city officials about the case Thursday, said the fact that a citation was issued for animal cruelty gave the ACO authority to remove the dog.
“The ordinance doesn’t say they have to, but that they ‘may’ seize animals which have been neglected,” Hayman said. “Even though the case hadn’t been decided just because the citation was issued, the fact that the police cited the owner -it would seem - that gives [the ACO] the authority to remove the dog.”
Section 5-3 of the city’s Code of Ordinances states “The animal control officer or the agent of the animal control officer(3) May enter upon private premises … and seize animals which have been obviously neglected.”
After the citation was issued Wednesday night, a resident at the house where the dog was found gave conflicting stories as to where the dog was. He told someone “the city came and got it.” He later told someone else that a person who presented themselves as a representative of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had come to the house and taken the dog.
Black said the citation was issued to Boyette Wednesday night, and the report on the incident was completed Thursday evening.