Woman Taped Dog’s Mouth Shut As a ‘Joke,’ but Judge Didn’t Think It Was Funny

June 20, 2019 Updated: June 26, 2019

Why do dogs bark? Well, sometimes it’s because they’re happy, like when their family comes home. Other times, it’s because they’re protecting their territory or talking to each other. Whatever the reason, barking is a completely natural phenomenon and one of the main ways for dogs to express themselves.

It seems that one Florida woman didn’t quite get the concept, as she posted pictures online with her “trick” for keeping dogs from barking. Even when thousands of people commented to express their shock and anger at what she had done, she still didn’t seem to get it.

The woman in question, Katharine F. Lemansky, who used the Facebook profile name “Katie Brown,” kicked off a storm when she posted what she thought was a great tip for all animal owners. The photo, posted on a Friday, was simple and shocking. Lemansky’s dog, a chocolate Labrador mix, is featured in close-up with several layers of gray duct tape wrapped tightly around his mouth.

Her caption: “this is what happens when you don’t shut up!!” Within hours, posts were flooding in with people furious at this cruel act.

Police arrest woman who posted pic of dog with taped up snout

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“Katie Brown’s” Facebook account listed her place of residence as South Daytona, Florida, and police there got an earful from angry callers demanding action. Her followup posts, which implied it was just a joke and the tape had only been on for a minute, didn’t help her case. As reposted by the Daytona News Journal: “Don’t panic everyone it was only for a minute but hasn’t barked since … POINT MADE!!!”

People from all over the world were trying to find out who she really was and where she lived. The number of emails and phone calls to the Daytona police department was so great that they had to bring extra help to keep track of them all, according to NBC Connecticut. As one commenter posted, per Inside Edition: “I want to duct tape this lady’s mouth shut.”

The South Daytona police chief told WESH in Daytona Beach that people were so angered by the post, “there were people on Facebook making death threats.”

UPDATE: A woman who authorities say posted a picture on Facebook showing her dog with its mouth taped shut has been…

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Working together, police from several states used tips from callers and emailers to track Lemansky down to Avon, Connecticut, where she had lived before, to Cary, North Carolina, where she had been staying at the time of the photo. The North Carolina police arrested her on charges of animal cruelty.

As the Cary police chief, Randall Rhyne, said in a statement to the press: “taping the dog’s muzzle shut was a terrible decision on Ms. Lemansky’s part, and charging her with animal cruelty under North Carolina law was the right thing to do.” When Lemansky went to trial in Wake County, North Carolina, many of those who had seen her post were eager to see justice done.

The judge in the case, Jackie Brewer, said “this is one of those cases where a picture’s worth a thousand words,” as the News Journal reported. While Lemansky’s attorneys tried to argue that the post had only been meant for her son as a joke, not for the general public, the prosecution and judge weren’t buying it.

As then-assistant-District Attorney Alex Pulley said at the trial, reported by the News Journal, the prosecution’s argument that there was no evidence of the dog feeling pain was ridiculous. “Of course the dog cannot be here and tell you it felt pain,” he argued, as reported by the News Journal.

There was some justice for Lemansky as she was sentenced to 12 months of supervised probation by the judge, the News Journal reported. However, she was allowed to keep the dogs as investigating police officers found them to be microchipped, clean, and well fed.

Nonetheless, the case showed “those types of actions aren’t going to be tolerated by the general public,” as one of Lemansky’s neighbors told NBC Connecticut.