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Mom, daughter accused of stealing canine after householders left it exterior in single-digit temps

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Two ladies in Tennessee are dealing with theft prices over allegations that they took a canine from house owners who left it exterior throughout December’s arctic blast.

The mother-daughter duo now intends to battle the costs in court docket. However the canine nonetheless hasn’t been reunited with its house owners, and the suspects have to this point refused to reveal whether or not they know the animal’s location.

Police obtain a criticism

Simply earlier than 5 pm on Dec. 23, temperatures on the Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Sullivan County, Tennessee, measured round 8 levels Fahrenheit. The Storm Staff at Nexstar’s WJHL additionally predicted winds from 15 to 25 mph and likes as much as 40 mph.

With the wind chill, meteorologist Alex Williams stated, “harmful” chilly temperatures may plunge to twenty under later that night.

The canine was chained contained in the shelter, which had an open entrance and a tarp as cowl. (Picture/SCSO)

Round that point, a deputy with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Workplace (SCSO) responded to a house in Bristol following a criticism from an nameless caller. The deputy arrived to discover a feminine German Shepherd chained into an open-front shelter that consisted of a tarp, a plastic canine home, and what gave the impression to be recent straw on the bottom.

The deputy stated the water within the canine’s bowl had frozen from the chilly. The officer was additionally unsuccessful in reaching the canine’s house owners at their house from him.

The water within the canine’s bowl, a deep steel bucket, had already frozen when deputies arrived. (Picture/SCSO)

The deputy spoke to a consultant of A Voice for Pets, a non-profit group primarily based in Tennessee. The consultant arrived on the scene and linked the officer with Karen Fox of Sullivan County Animal Management.

Fox stated Sullivan County Animal Management had already been to the residence earlier within the day and located the canine with meals and frozen water, in accordance with the deputy. Fox was planning to go to the canine once more the following day.

She suggested the deputy to offer the canine recent water. The deputy additionally gave the animal some ham.

Harley goes lacking

Later that very same day, simply after 8 pm, temperatures within the area plummeted to round 4-5 levels Fahrenheit. Sullivan County 911 operators acquired one other name, this time from residents of the property the place the canine was discovered.

Harley, their five-year-old German Shepherd, was gone, they stated.

Harley’s house owners advised deputies they knew officers had visited earlier that day. The house owners claimed they had been away choosing up their grandchildren on the time, however deliberate to let the canine inside after they returned.

Deputies with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Workplace seen surveillance footage from the property and reported seeing a white automobile parked close by. A lady received out of the automobile and appeared to stroll across the aspect of the home close to Harley’s location earlier than the canine was noticed working by way of the yard.

In a later shot, deputies stated, Harley was seen sitting within the again seat of the automobile earlier than it drove away.

The arrests

On the morning of Jan. 6, 2023, Virginia and Jillian Shackelford of Bluff Metropolis had been arrested by SCSO deputies for allegedly stealing Harley on that December day.

The mom and daughter had been charged with theft as much as $1,000, a Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee. Harley’s house owners estimated her worth at $800, in accordance with the police report.

Animal care activists within the area rallied across the two on social media as they’d been calling for Harley’s launch and celebrating her removing on Dec. 23. Advocates for anti-chain legal guidelines and stricter animal ordinances criticized the arrests as properly.

Virginia Shackelford, who goes by Ginny, advised WJHL in a message that she believed Harley’s disappearance needs to be described as a rescue effort to save lots of the animal from sub-zero temperatures. Shackelford refused to say how she discovered of Harley’s scenario.

After a number of makes an attempt at contact, together with a go to to the residence, WJHL has not heard again from Harley’s house owners.

Captain Andy Seabolt with SCSO stated investigators gave the Shackelfords “a number of alternatives” to return Harley to her unique house owners earlier than escalating to legal prices. When the mom and daughter had been requested to reveal the canine’s location, Seabolt stated they refused, and the warrant course of started.

“A number of instances the investigator spoke to the suspects in an try and find the stolen canine,” Seabolt wrote in an e mail to WJHL. “The suspects refused to cooperate as I acknowledged earlier, and the investigator consulted with the Sullivan County District Lawyer’s Workplace. Warrants had been obtained for the theft and served.”

An SCSO investigator stated the Shackelfords had different avenues they may have exhausted earlier than taking the canine.

“There is a proper manner and a mistaken approach to do issues,” stated Captain Richard Frazier, the commanding officer of SCSO’s legal investigations division. “In the event that they thought that it wasn’t being accomplished quick sufficient, I want they’d have known as us again and perhaps spoken to a patrol supervisor. Possibly they may have gotten a faster reply there or one thing else may have been accomplished.”

Frazier stated that SCSO’s first precedence is to return Harley to her house owners. If the Shackelfords had handed her over, he stated, then issues might need gone in a different way.

“We did simply wish to get the canine again to the house owners,” Frazier stated. “They did not cooperate with the investigation, so far as the suspects go. All we wished was data of the canine. Simply inform us the place the canine is. We’ll go get it. We’ll deal with every part from there.”

In keeping with Sullivan County District Lawyer Barry Staubus, a minimum of two investigations are ongoing in regards to the Shackelfords and Harley’s house owners. WJHL requested recordings of the 911 calls positioned on Dec. 23—each the decision made by the nameless individual and the decision positioned by Harley’s house owners—however the requests had been denied as a result of ongoing investigations.

When requested, Staubus didn’t touch upon whether or not he anticipated legal prices towards Harley’s house owners as properly. As of earlier this week, no different prices had been filed in both investigation.

The Shackelfords are set to seem at 9 am in Sullivan County Basic Periods Court docket on Jan. 30.

“Each Ms. Jillian Shackelford and Ms. Ginny Shackelford shall plead not responsible,” Julie Canter, the Shackelfords’ lawyer, advised WJHL. “The State has the burden of proof past an inexpensive doubt. We intend to aggressively and actively battle the allegations and prices. My agency is presently conducting an unbiased investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrests and allegations.”

As of final week, police stated Harley’s whereabouts are nonetheless unclear.

The legislation: What are you able to do?

Tennessee has no present legal guidelines that shield the typical citizen from legal prices after they take an animal towards its proprietor’s consent, regardless of the situations. The state does, nonetheless, have a “sizzling automobile” legislation that may shield residents from civil legal responsibility in the event that they break right into a locked automobile to save lots of an animal or minor that they imagine would undergo hurt when left inside. That legislation has particular limitations, together with a clause requiring residents to inform first responders and stay close by with the animal or minor.

In keeping with the Sullivan County Lawyer’s workplace, no formal animal ordinance is on file with the county. Animal management officers advised WJHL they comply with state legal guidelines on the matter.

“Typically, all we are able to do is what the animal management [says],’” Frazier stated. “As soon as we examine every part, enough shelter, meals and water, we have got to show it over to them.”

Whereas animal issues are largely left to animal management, Frazier stated that does not cease the occasional deputy from taking a name personally.

“I do know a few of us have put animals behind our cruisers earlier than, however we’re simply not geared up to cope with it,” Frazier stated. “And a variety of instances, as soon as that is occurred, animal management has come and received the canine. We simply do not have something to do with them.”

In relation to the removing of animals for issues like neglect, Frazier stated that request has to come back from Animal Management. Seabolt stated he would not recall the final time a name like that got here by way of the workplace.

“Name us. We’ll ahead it on to the correct authorities,” Frazier stated. “Do not take it upon your self to go on anyone else’s property and take their pet.”

In keeping with Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-202, anybody who “knowingly ties, tethers, or restrains a canine in a way that leads to the canine struggling bodily harm” could possibly be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for cruelty to animals for his or her first offense and a Class E felony for later offenses.

For the total variations of Tennessee’s animal offenses, you may go to the state’s web site.

In keeping with the American Veterinary Medical Affiliation (AMVA), chilly climate is a critical threat for even thick-coated canine like German Shepherds. The AMVA stated cats and canine should not be left alone exterior no matter breed when climate is under freezing, a lot much less under zero. If they’re, the AMVA stated chilly situations can result in cracked/bleeding paw pads, hypothermia, lameness, frostbite and dying.

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