What started as one person’s definition of a joke has resulted in the legal system getting the last laugh.
Kimberly Ann Howell of Salisbury, North Carolina, was found guilty Thursday of animal cruelty after duct taping her dog’s muzzle shut and then jokingly posting the photos on Facebook, WNCN TV reports.
The 25-year-old’s story began in October, when she reportedly wanted to teach her mixed breed pup Leah to not bite her young child. She then shared the photos on social media, sparking outrage from near and far.
“I warned her,” Howell, 25, wrote with the photos. “I told her I was going to teach her not to bite the baby again even play biting lol.”
She was released on a $3,000 bond for the animal cruelty charge and failure to appear for outstanding traffic charges.
On Thursday, Howell was sentenced to 45 days suspended sentence and 18 months of probation. Via WBTV
In court, Howell was sentenced to a 45-day suspended sentence and 18 months of probation. The judge also gave the Rowan County woman 36 hours of community service, requesting she serve them at animal control.
The news station reports that Howell’s attorney wanted to appeal the ruling, but Howell said, “I’ll take it.”
During the investigation, reports show that Howell said the tape was on Leah for only about five minutes and her boyfriend confirmed that the woman did so because she “thought it would be funny.” On Thursday, Detective R.C. Barkley said there were two other photos, not posted; one showed Howell’s daughter petting the dog during the time Leah’s mouth was taped shut.
One of the October posts shows Leah with her muzzle taped. Via WBTV
“It didn’t hurt her,” Howell said in court, reports WNCN. “She just didn’t like it.”
Judge Kevin Eddinger called the crime a “callous act” despite Howell saying she loved her dog as much as she did her daughter. However, during cross examination, when the prosecutor asked the woman if she would ever duct tape closed her child’s mouth, Howell reportedly could only pause and say no.
This is the second nationally reported incident in as many months of a person duct taping a dog’s mouth shut and then posting the photos of it on Facebook. Katharine F. Lemansky, aka Katie Brown (as she’s known on Facebook), also of North Carolina, was charged earlier this week with animal cruelty after taping her dog’s mouth shut and then posting a photo on Facebook with the caption, “This is what happens when you don’t shut up!!!”