A South Carolina man who taped the mouth of a dog shut pleaded guilty to animal cruelty on Aug. 8.
Local newspaper Post and Courier reported that William Leonard Dodson of North Charleston pleaded guilty to a felony charge of ill treatment of animals. Dodson faces between 180 days and five years in prison, and he could be fined as much as $5,000 when he is sentenced.
According to an affidavit, Dodson purchased the dog—then named Diamond—from a woman for $20. The following night, he told the woman he taped the dog’s mouth shut because it wouldn’t stop barking and apparently was laughing about what he had done.
The severely dehydrated 15-month-old brown Staffordshire mix was found by neighbors on May 27, 2015, with electrical tape wrapped tightly around its muzzle.
Pictures of her taped muzzle went viral and since its discovery, the dog—now named Caitlyn—has been in the care of the Charleston Animal Society (CAS).
“Our number one priority is Caitlyn’s health and well-being and we are attending to special needs she has and will continue to do so,” said Charleston Animal Society CEO Joe Elmore.
The dog lost minimal function of her tongue and upper lip. Caitlyn’s medical treatments have included minor surgery on her lip, antibiotics, and cold laser therapy. The dog still suffers from anxiety.
For the CAS, the guilty plea from Dodson is a step in the right direction towards tougher penalties for animal abusers.
“Today’s plea shows progress, but cruelty laws in South Carolina still lag behind the rest of the country and are in great need of improvement,” said Aldwin Roman, the Charleston Animal Society director of anti-cruelty and outreach. “We are committed to working with lawmakers, police and prosecutors to make sure justice is done for all animals who are abused like Caitlyn.”