Two Thurston County men pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges Tuesday in Thurston County Superior Court. The men were charged last month in the abuse and death of a dog named Wolfy.
Robert L. Leatherman, 51, is charged with first-degree animal cruelty, a felony. Jeffrey L. Gavin, 44, is charged with second-degree animal cruelty, a gross misdemeanor. The two men appeared before Judge Anne Hirsch during the Tuesday hearing.
Hirsch allowed Leatherman and Gavin to remain out of custody on their personal recognizance. She prohibited the two men from having any contact with animals while the case is pending.
According to court documents, a Thurston County Animal Services officer and a Thurston County Sheriff’s deputy began investigating the dog’s death in October after photos of the emaciated dog, who had been spotted in Bucoda, began circulating on Facebook.
The deputy contacted a woman who said she had seen Wolfy sitting outside of a store. She said the dog had an open sore on his back and appeared to be sick, according to court documents.
Investigators identified Leatherman as the dog’s owner, and he admitted that the dog was in “horrible condition” and said that he had asked a friend to put him down. He initially gave investigators a false name for the friend, who was later identified as Gavin.
One of Leatherman’s roommates agreed to take the deputy to the place where Wolfy was shot. He took the deputy to Tono Road, about two miles from Bucoda, and they found the dog in a hole wrapped in a sleeping bag. There was a bullet casing next to the dog.
Gavin admitted to shooting Wolfy three times in the back of the head, according to court documents.
A veterinarian examined the dog and said he was emaciated and had a severe maggot infestation. She found no food in Wolfy’s intestines, but she did find several rocks that he had eaten.
“In my professional opinion, this patient suffered tremendously from chronic severe skin, oral, joint and ear disease as well as neglect and starvation in life,” she wrote in her report.
After examining the bullet wounds and blood clotting, she determined that the dog didn’t die instantly after he was shot, according to court documents.
At the Tuesday hearing, Hirsch set the suspects’ trial for the week of July 27.