Tammy Grimes Found Guilty

Update Feb. 25, 2008: Grimes was sentenced to probation, 300 hours of community service and fines totalling $3878.99. 

Update December 14, 2007 late afternoon: A Blair County, Pennsylvania jury has found Tammy Grimes guilty of theft and receiving stolen property. Sentencing is set for February 22, 2008.

The judge instructed the jury they must find Tammy guilty if she "ever" intended to deprive the Arnolds of their property, Doogie, the dog.  Ever? The judge instructed the jury they could find intent to commit the crimes if they believed she refused at any time to return the dog or reveal his whereabouts. The judge refused to allow the jury to consider the defense of justification.  In fact, the jury was not allowed to see the video of Doogie’s rescue. Nor was the jury allowed to see photos of Doogie after the rescue.

The judge really forced the verdict with these instructions. It didn’t help that the prosecutor repeated throughout his closing argument that anarchy would ensue if the laws weren’t enforced.  (I guess he doesn’t include the animal cruelty laws in that sweeping prediction.) 

Tammy testified she felt she had no choice but to take Doogie to the vet especially in view of the failure of the humane officer, Paul Gottschall, to respond to earlier calls for help.  Also, when she ran into Gottschall en route to the vet’s office, she offered that he could take the dog, and he told her to go ahead and take Doogie to the vet. He didn’t return her subsequent call about the dog. Gottschall was simply not credible when he testified that he told Tammy to leave the dog with the vet, Dr. Noureldin Hassane. At least 4 people present at the time including Tammy testified Gottschall never said anything of the sort.

Tammy also testified when the police came to her house that night, they gave her the choice of returning the dog or going to jail. She couldn’t return Doogie to that chain. Not in his condition. Dr. Hassane made clear in his  testimony that Doogie looked like he had been hit in an accident, that on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being excellent health, Doogie was a 2.  The dog was suffering and in great pain.  

One courtroom observer noted, "Tammy should wear this conviction like a badge of honor. She did the right thing for the dog and that’s what should have mattered here."

The prosecutor,  Richard Consiglio, has said Tammy won’t face jail time.

Click here to contact Governor Ed Rendell and urge him to pardon Tammy. Please be polite! For more on this case including earlier testimony, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.

Also, don’t let Tammy’s efforts be in vain. Help pass Pennsylvania bill, H.B. 1065 which restricts the tethering and chaining of dogs. Click here for more information about that bill and how you can help pass it.

Update December 14, 2007: Another crowd of supporters awaited Tammy as she arrived in court for the second day of trial.

Supporters  are reporting that when they call the judge and prosecutor, they are met with rudeness; the staff for these public officials refuse to take messages or make some record of the calls. 

The Commonwealth or prosecution finished its case early in the day, and Tammy began her defense.

Dr. Noureldin Hassane, the veterinarian who treated Doogie just after Tammy rescued him, took the stand. The vet confirmed the dog was suffering from severe arthritis and appeared in a generally neglected condition, like he had been hit in an accident. Dr. Hassane said on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being excellent health, Doogie was a 2.

Kim Eichner also testified. Ms. Eichner is the Arnolds’ neighbor who repeatedly contacted the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society to try to get help for the dog, all to no avail. Ms. Eichner said the dog had been lying on the ground on the end of the chain without moving for at least 2 days when she finally called Tammy for help.

At one point in cross-examining Ms. Eichner, the prosecutor, Richard Consiglio, asked her, "Do you think [Doogie] tried to bite you [when you were lifting him off the ground] because he wanted to stay?"  The question drew a smirk from the judge, Elizabeth Doyle, and also some laughter from some in the gallery.

Without determining who laughed, the judge ordered those who were there to support Tammy out of the courtroom and announced they cannot return, though later they were told the judge would accept written requests to return and decide on a case by case basis if the person could return to watch the trial.

For more information about this case, read Animal Law Coalition’s original report below. You will find the names and contact information for the judge and prosecutor at the end of this article.

Update December 13, 2007: A crowd with people from as far away as Illinois and Florida braved the cold, wet weather in Hollidaysburg, PA to show support for Tammy Grimes – and Doogie - at a rally outside the Blair County Courthouse before the trial got under way on Tuesday.

The courtroom was also filled with supporters, hoping to draw attention to the cruelty of tethering or chaining dogs and support Tammy who saved Doogie as he lay dying at the end of a chain.

As the trial started, prosecutor Richard Consigilo, claimed that in prosecuting Tammy for theft and receiving stolen property, he is saving the country from her vigilantism which otherwise would lead to anarchy. 

Steve and Lori Arnold testified and actually described their abusive neglect of poor Doogie as concern and caring. They claimed they gave the old dog aspirin to ease his arthritic pain and puppy food that was easier for him to chew. 

That’s hard to square with the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YN9t1rv4pj4) and photos as well as report from Kim Eicher, a neighbor, who said the dog lay chained on the cold, hard ground, unable to reach a dirty water bucket or the flimsy plastic crate they called a shelter.  Kim said when she called on Tammy for help, the dog had not moved for at least 2 days.

The local humane officer, Paul Gottschall, who had failed to respond to Kim’s calls for help, testified he was on his way to investigate when he ran into Tammy taking the dog to the vet. He agreed he told her to take the dog to the vet, but said he instructed Tammy to leave the dog with the vet. Contradicting the vet’s findings (see earlier report below), Gottschall claimed the dog did not appear neglected but only dehydrated. Huh? 

Well, the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society clearly failed to protect this dog and has been distancing itself from Tammy for some time. You’d think as a humane society, they would have taken this opportunity to educate the public on the cruelty and dangers of chaining dogs instead of hiding behind untruths and excuses.     

For background on this case, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report below. Go to the end of this article to find the names and contact information for the judge and the prosecutor. Write or call now and let them know it’s time to put a stop to this vendetta against someone who performed a simple act of kindness for a suffering animal.

Original report:   A Blair County, Pennsylvania jury will soon decide if Tammy S. Grimes should be convicted of theft and receiving stolen property.   The trial is set for December 12, 13, and 14. Her crime? She saved an arthritic old dog that lay dying on the end of a chain on the cold hard ground. The dog had not moved for at least 2 days.  The dog could not reach the dirty water bowl or the flimsy plastic crate that served as his shelter.

Steve and Lori Arnold, the dog’s owners, were nowhere to be found. Kim Eichner, a neighbor, reported the dog had not moved for at least 2 days.

Tammy is the founder of Dogs Deserve Better, http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/, the well known organization that has pioneered the anti-chaining movement in this country, dedicated to educating people about the cruelty and dangers of chaining dogs and working to pass laws to ban this practice. 

When she was first contacted by the Arnolds’ neighbor, Kim Eichner, about the dog’s plight, Tammy insisted she could not help, that the local Central Pennsylvania Humane Society should be contacted. It is their job, after all, to investigate reports of animal cruelty. But when the local humane society did not even bother to respond to calls for help, Tammy went to see the dog.

She could not leave him there on the cold hard ground, dying at the end of his chain. Instead, Tammy removed the chain from the poor dog’s neck and drove him to a local vet.  

Curiously, as she arrived at the vet’s office, a humane officer, Paul Gotshall, stopped Tammy. At that point she offered to take the dog she had named Doogie back and allow the officer to pick him up instead. Tammy explained, "[The officer] refused that, and stated that I should get him the vet care he needed, and to call him afterward on his cell.

Tammy said, "When I later called him, he did not answer, I left a message asking him what he wanted me to do with Doogie, he never called back."

At the time Tammy described, "The vet documented [Doogie’s] general negligent condition, low weight, sores, missing fur, and took x-rays of his back and hips. [The vet] determined that [Doogie] has very bad back spurs that are causing him a lot of pain and are most likely responsible for his inability to walk. He also saw an undetermined mass near [Doogie’s] hip on the x-ray".

Tammy then took Doogie to her home and bathed him. She noted he smelled terrible. She gave him food and water.   

Tammy has elaborated on her decision to take Doogie, "I think you’ll agree with me that this [terrible abuse] is not acceptable in any kind of humane society, and we cannot allow this kind of animal abuse. We must stand up and stop accepting this to be ok for people to do to their dogs, and stop jailing those who are trying to help them.

"I could never look myself in the eye again, much less sleep tonight, had I left Doogie there dying, shivering in the dirt. I will spend the rest of my life in jail as opposed to handing him over to be abused further by these people."

Later a police officer from Freedom Township, Officer Flaig, called and told her to return Doogie. Tammy refused to do that. She urged the police to review her evidence and consider charges of cruelty and neglect against Doogie’s owners. Officer Flaig refused.

Instead, later that night, Officer Flaig arrived at her house with 3 other police vehicles following – as if Tammy had robbed a bank. Tammy was taken into custody and then "treated like a common criminal, especially by Chief Reilly, who called me a[n] ‘idiot’, ‘incompetent’, and I overheard him telling Officer Flaig that if I ever came near his dog I would have a slug in my a**."

Tammy describes, "I was released after seeing Judge [Paula] Aigner, where Chief Reilly asked that I be not given bail but incarcerated for my failure to cooperate. It was 2:00 a.m., and I had no ride home, over 30 miles away. I had to walk to a local all-night store to call and get a cab, because there was no concern over how I would get home. Their attempt to dehumanize me didn’t work. I held my head high and still do. I looked Chief Reilly square in the eye at every opportunity. I will not be broken."

Tammy was charged with theft, receiving stolen property, criminal mischief, and criminal trespass. Tammy was released on $50,000 bail. After a preliminary hearing, the criminal mischief and trespass charges were dropped and bail was reduced to $10,000.

Steve and Lori Arnold have never been charged with animal cruelty at least by the State or local authorities. Chief Reilly and the humane society claim there was no evidence of abuse. The prosecutor has announced he has not even considered charges against the Arnolds. Tammy, however, has filed a private criminal complaint against the Arnolds for their severe neglect of Doogie. The complaint is pending at this time.

Under Pennsylvania law "[a] person commits an offense if he wantonly or cruelly ill treats, … otherwise abuses any animal, or neglects any animal as to which he has a duty of care… deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, drink, shelter or veterinary care, or access to clean and sanitary shelter which will protect the animal against inclement  weather and preserve the animal’s body heat and keep it dry."  18 Pa. Cons. Stat. 5511(c).

Tammy’s photos and video show more than probable cause exists to believe Doogie was severely neglected. At the time Tammy found him, he had not moved for a couple of days at least. He could not stand. That means it is not clear he even drank any water during that time. His water bucket was some distance from where he was found on the ground.

Doogie was left in desperate need of vet care on the end of a chain on the cold, wet ground. The veterinarian found Doogie was too thin, missing fur, and in extreme pain and distress because of painful bone spurs. The Arnolds have even admitted they knew he had arthritis, but they left him alone on the cold, wet ground with a plastic crate he could not even get to and nothing for his pain. The Pennsylvania law is meaningless if it does not include this situation.

Tammy never returned Doogie to the Arnolds, and he later died, after spending his last days with a loving foster mom.

Judge Elizabeth Doyle will preside over the trial. A jury has already been selected. The judge has issued a preliminary ruling that Tammy cannot present a defense of justification. The judge has also issued a gag order, barring the parties from speaking about the case to the media.  It is not clear the judge will allow the video and photos of Doogie into evidence. It is not clear Tammy will be allowed to explain to the jury why she took Doogie off of his chain. (The judge has reserved ruling on the District Attorney’s motions to exclude the videotape of Doogie’s rescue and also expert testimony.)

Don’t let Blair County get away with this vendetta against Tammy Grimes. Let them know it is Doogie who deserves justice. Attend the trial at the Blair County Courthouse, 423 Allegheny St., Hollidaysburg, PA 16648-2022

Let Judge Elizabeth Doyle know Tammy should be able to tell the jury why she saved Doogie. Better yet, urge the judge to dismiss this case as an abuse.

Write the Judge at 423 Allegheny St., Suite 246, Hollidaysburg, PA  16488-2022 or call at 814-693-3065.  

Call on Blair County, PA District Attorney Richard Consiglio to stop this vendetta and free Tammy now! If anyone should be on trial, it should be the Arnolds.  814-693-3000

 Ask the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society why they have distanced themselves from Tammy despite the obvious cruelty, despite that they failed to respond to calls for help and Officer Paul Gottschall told Tammy to take the dog to the vet: 814.942.5402

Altoona Mirror: 800.287.4480; news@altoonamirror.com

WTAJ-TV10: 814.944.1414
WJAC-TV 6: 814.255.7600

To view Doogie’s condition at the time of his rescue, view these videos:

Doogie laying on the ground, Kim Eichner crying in the background:

Doogie at Tammy’s house:

For more information, visit the Dogs Deserve Better site: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/doogie.html

Why You Should Take Action to Get Dogs Off Chains

Make it a priority to unchain dogs and other animals in your state or community. Here are some reasons why:

The United States Department of Agriculture, Federal Register – July, 1996:

"Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane. A tether significantly restricts a dog’s movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog’s shelter structure or other objects, further restricting the dog’s movement and potentially causing injury."

American Veterinary Medical Association, May 15, 2003:

"Confine your dog in a fenced yard or dog run when it is not in the house. Never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior."

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, a chained dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than an unchained dog.

Many fatal dog attacks are a result of tethering dogs when humans come within the reach of such dogs. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association has reported that 17 percent of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans between 1979 and 1998 were chained on their owner’s property at the time of the attack. In her book Fatal Dog Attacks, Karen Delise (Anubis Press, November 1, 2002) states that 25 percent of fatal attacks are by chained dogs. The victims of such attacks are often children.

Chained dogs can become aggressive due to intense confinement and lack of socialization. They also feel trapped, unable to escape from noises or people or animals that frighten them.

Chained dogs typically lack adequate veterinary care, food, water, or shelter. They are rarely exercised or interact with their families. These dogs suffer from neglect. Even if they are not left without adequate care, they lead an unhappy, frustrating existence for such social animals. Dogs on chains suffer intense boredom, anxiety, even neuroses; their lives are very sad and lonely.

Dogs can choke to death when their chains became entangled with other objects, or develop infections and severe wounds when collars become embedded in their necks.

Lawrence County, Kansas, two years ago, adopted an anti-tethering ordinance prohibiting dog owners from keeping dogs chained outside. In 2005, there were 800 calls to the Lawrence Humane Society concerning cruelty to dogs and dog fighting; in 2006 as of September 1, there were only 260 complaints. City officials attribute the decline in large part to the anti-tethering ordinance.

A ban on chaining and tethering can aid in enforcement of dog fighting laws. Law enforcement can use the ban to stop dog fighting because many of these dogs are kept on chains.

Local Laws That Address Chaining or Tethering

Visit these sites for more information about laws restricting tethering and chaining.






By Laura Allen for the Animal Law Coalition

2007 State Anti-Tethering Bills

 State legislatures around the country have considered restrictions on tethering or chaining dogs. Here’s how these bills have fared:  

There is increasing recognition tethering, chaining and penning are not only inhumane, these practices can make for dangerous dogs. New Mexico passed a resolution, H.M. 19, that commissions the Department of Public Safety to investigate whether these practices are inhumane and may create a danger to the public.

With a twist on the California law passed in 2006, Texas’ new anti-chaining law, HB 1411, goes into effect this month. The law basically bans chaining of dogs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., within 500 feet of a school and during extreme weather conditions such as when temperatures fall below 32 degrees F or there is a heat advisory or hurricane warning. Chains must be fitted to collars that are at least 1 inch bigger than the dog’s neck. Chains must be 5 times longer than the dog or 10 feet long, whichever is longer. The dog must not be chained in any manner that is unsafe or will cause injury to the dog.

There are a number of exceptions, though. While under the California law, dogs cannot be chained at all except for up to 3 hours each day while the owner is performing some task, the Texas law creates an exception from all chaining restrictions for owners performing tasks; these owners can leave their dogs chained in any manner for up to 3 hours each day. Like the California law, the new Texas law exempts the use of trolleys and dogs used for herding livestock or while their owners are working in some farm-related business.    

A copy of the law is in ALC’s Laws.

This summer the Tennessee legislature passed anti-tethering legislation, and Governor Phil Bredesen, signed it on June 27, 2007. Tennessee Code Section 39-14-202, is amended by making it illegal to "knowingly tie[], tether[], or restrain[] a dog in a manner that results in the dog suffering bodily injury". Not a ban or even a limit on the time a dog can be tethered, but it’s a start.

Maryland legislators once again failed to pass an anti-tethering bill this year. Nevada‘s bill that would have limited tethering, chaining and penning of dogs failed because the Chairman of a Senate Committee, Sen. Dean Rhoads, refused to let it come to a vote by the committee.

Unfortunately, the North Carolina legislature withdrew a bill limiting tethering or chaining to a fixed object to 3 hours per day and to a cable trolley device to 6 hours each day. Local communities would have had the option of increasing or reducing the allotted time for tethering or chaining.

But the good news is New Hanover County, North Carolina has already banned tethering or chaining of dogs; Durham, North Carolina is considering such a law.

Currently, New York is considering bills, NY S.O. 2052 and the Assembly counterpart, A.B. 6553, that would restrict tethering or chaining including use of any trolley device to no more than 6 hours in a 24 hour period. The trolley device and the attached tether must each be at lest 10 feet long. Any tether or chain attached to a fixed object must be at least 15 feet long. The tether or chain must be attached to a properly fitted collar and not a choke or prong type collar.

To contact New York legislators and urge them to pass S.B. 2052 and A.B. 6553, click here.

Find and Contact New York State Senators; Find and Contact New York Assembly Members

Rhode Island proposes to extend limitations on tethering or chaining to penned dogs as well. Under a proposal now floundering in the Rhode Island House and Senate, RI H.B. 5179 and S.B. 527 would make it illegal to keep any dog "outside tethered, penned, caged, fenced or otherwise confined for more than 30 minutes" without access to shelter.

When the ambient temperature is beyond the industry standard for the weather safety scale as set forth in the most recent adopted version of the Tufts Animal Care and Condition Scale (TACC), the shelter must be "the proper size for that dog, …impervious to moisture, contain[] dry bedding material, ha[ve] a floor that is at least four (4) inches off the ground and ha[ve] a wind break at the entrance".

Also, under this proposal dogs could not be left tethered or chained for more than 2 hours without their person present and tethered or chained no more than 10 hours a day. Dogs could not be confined in a pen, cage or other container for more than 18 hours in a 24 hour period.

Under the proposed law the tether or chain must be at least 6 feet long and not tangled. The dog must have access to food and water.

Click on these links to find Rhode Island legislators; contact them and urge them to support H.B. 5179 and S.B. 527! Find Rhode Island State Senators; Find Rhode Island State Representatives

In Pennsylvania H.B. 1065 was recently introduced to try to restrict tethering and chaining in that state. The proposed law now in the House Appropriations Committee would ban tethering or chaining between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Also, any tether or chain must be at least 6 feet long or 5 times as long as the dog, whichever is longer. The tether or chain must be attached so that it does not become tangled or cause the dog injury and must allow the dog access to food, water and adequate shelter from the sun. The tether or chain must be attached to a properly fitted collar; no choke, pinch or prong-type collars maybe used. To find your Pennsylvania legislator and urge him or her to pass H.B. 1065, click here. Find Your Pennsylvania Legislator

Dogs used for herding other animals are excepted; also dogs may be chained for safety during agricultural operations or on camping or other recreational trips.

A pending Maine bill would amend the state’s existing restrictions on tethering, 7 MRSA §4015, sub-§6, to require removal of the dog from the tether or chain at least 3 consecutive hours each day and also during extremely hot or cold weather or other weather -related events like hurricanes, tropical storms, or wind chill warnings. The new law would require access to food, water and an adequate shelter; the tether or chain would be required to be attached to avoid becoming tangled or causing the dog injury or difficulty. The tether or chain must be attached to a properly fitted collar and that does not include choke or pinch collars.

Contact Maine legislators about this bill: Find and Contact Maine State Senators; Find and Contact Maine State Representatives

In New Jersey bills NJ A. 2773 & S. 1705 would require that if tethered or chained, the animal can still reach food, water or shelter and move around sufficiently;’ the new law would require that the tethering or chaining not cause injury. Not really much help for the animals. These bills would not require owners to remove the animals from the tethers or chains at all, ever. But it’s a start and with education, could be an effective beginning to an effort to remove dogs from chains.

Contact your New Jersey legislators about these bills.
Find Your New Jersey Legislators