Woman Tapes Her Dog’s Muzzle Shut, Posts Photos Online As A ‘Joke’

What supposedly started as a joke quickly resulted in animal cruelty charges for the young mother.

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Leah's owner taped her dog's muzzle shut before sharing photos on Facebook. Via WBTV

The cruel act of taping a dog’s muzzle shut is again in the news. However, this time, the woman arrested for the crime thought it was nothing more than a joke, reports WBTV.

Kimberly Ann Howell of Salisbury, North Carolina, reportedly wanted to teach her dog Leah to not bite Howell’s young child. So she put duct tape around the mixed breed pup’s muzzle, took some pictures and posted them to Facebook with the caption (in part) “Ha ha,” according to the local news station.

A screenshot from one of Howell's original posts. Via WBTV/Facebook

A screenshot from one of Howell’s original posts. Via WBTV

“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.”

Although Howell said she didn’t keep the tape on the dog for even five minutes, it was enough for at least one person who saw it to contact the authorities.

Kimberly Ann Howell was arrested and charged with animal cruelty following the incident. Via WBTV

Kimberly Ann Howell was arrested and charged with animal cruelty following the incident. Via WBTV

“The dog is in perfect health, I mean there’s nothing, as you can see she’s far from abused … ,” Howell’s boyfriend John (no last name provided) told WBTV.  “There was a lot of backlash out of this, people took it out of context, I mean it was a bad decision on her part, she shouldn’t have posted it, the tape wasn’t on the dog longer than two minutes, it shouldn’t have been done it was just a bad judgment.”

After being released from jail on $3,000 bond — reportedly on the cruelty charge and failure to appear for outstanding traffic charges — Howell took to Facebook to try to explain her actions.

“Wow ok maybe I should of said I was joking when posting that,” Howell wrote on Facebook Monday.

“Lesson learned and lesson learned that people are going to assume what thy (sic) want about you … ,” Howell wrote in another post. “I’m just almost at the point in tears that people are so mean. And I respect that people are serious about animal abuse, they should be. But I would never abuse my dog. Sad part is people who have never met us are saying different but my dog as happy and playful as can be.”

Leah plays in her yard after her ordeal. Via WBTV

Leah plays in her yard after her ordeal. Via WBTV

This isn’t the first time news of a dog having her muzzle taped shut has made the news. Earlier this year, Caitlyn, a Staffordshire Terrier mix, was left for dead in South Carolina with her muzzle strapped shut with duct tape. She needed surgery to repair damage to her jaw, lip and tongue. Shortly thereafter, a German Shepherd was found in Colorado with her mouth and legs taped.

Duct taping a dog’s mouth can lead to serious health consequence, said Rowan County Animal Control’s Jamie Stiver, adding that there are better options when it comes to training your dog.

“Either purchase proper muzzles, they have different types, some that are soft, some that are plastic,” Stivers told WBTV. “The best alternative for any behavior modification type issues that you are having would be to get a trainer.”

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