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Husband: Fayetteville woman charged with animal cruelty tried to care for dog

Posted March 2, 2015

— A Fayetteville woman accused of allowing her dog to starve tried to care for the ill animal, her husband said Monday.

Stephanie Bates, 49, of 7649 Galena Drive, was charged Friday with felony animal cruelty.

Cumberland County authorities said she took Bruno, a 3-year-old boxer bulldog, to a veterinary clinic in October 2013 and January 2014 for treatment of gastro-intestinal problems. The vets diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome, and Bates was told the dog would need additional medications and a special diet, authorities said.

After a year passed, Bates asked the veterinary clinic in January to euthanize the dog, but they refused to do that without first examining the dog again, authorities said. She later surrendered Bruno, which by then was emaciated and could barely stand, to Cumberland County Animal Control.

"It had had medical problems for the better part of a year, and the owner ... sought medical treatment and then she didn't get the medical treatment," Cumberland County Animal Control Director John Lauby said Monday.

Bruno has since been euthanized.

Bates' husband disputes Lauby's summary of the case, saying his wife spent $100 a month on special food for Bruno but just couldn't keep the dog healthy.

Her husband, who declined to give his name, is an Army command sergeant major at Fort Bragg and said he was deployed in Afghanistan for much of the time Bruno was sick. He said he begged her to keep working with the dog with the hope he could nurse it back to health upon his return.

As a condition of her $10,000 bond, a judge ordered Bates and her husband to surrender any other pets they own.

Members of Carolina Boxer Rescue attended Bates' court hearing Monday and said Bruno didn't have to die.

"It's terrible. How can somebody leave a dog sit and not do anything?" said Joe Szymborski, regional coordinator for the animal rescue group.

"Call a shelter," said Evelyn Moore of Carolina Boxer Rescue. "She managed to go to the shelter in the end. She could have gone before. We would have been right there to take that boxer, get it care, get it a home, foster it, whatever needed to be done. It didn't have to starve to death."

Lauby said Bruno's case is is the sixth instance of felony animal cruelty in Cumberland County this year. Others include a Fort Bragg soldier accused of drowning a puppy in a pond and a Fayetteville man charged with abandoning eight dogs in his home for weeks, causing six to die.


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  • Deborah Deese Mar 3, 2015
    user avatar

    By the time he was surrendered, he was beginning to go into multiple organ failure. Having cared for a terminally ill dog, I learned that the decision to euthanize comes well before the point Bruno was at in the end. You don't wait for an animal to waste away. The process of starvation causes extreme pain. Pain can be managed, but it costs money. He had likely been living in severe pain for quite some time, and was so sick he was being fed a couple of CCs at a time every couple hours. If he was being fed at all by the owner (even a food unsuitable for his gastro condition) he may have been able to take in more food and water than he was. He went into cardiac arrest in the end in spite of extreme life-saving measures paid for by donations to Carolina Boxer Rescue. It really seems to take a lot in this state for someone to be charged with felony animal abuse. And yet here she is facing this charge.

  • AshLeigh Marie Mar 3, 2015
    user avatar

    There are low cost clinics available as well as breed specific rescues. She could have sought help sooner. Any reasonable person can look at Bruno and see he was not well. Why so much time in between the vet visit? I'm not sure I can really believe the husband considering he was not even there. Has he seen the pictures of the dog?

  • Lisa Marie Fields Mar 3, 2015
    user avatar

    If the dog wasn't improving after a couple months, she should have turned him in then. Not waited a year, and then the dog is to the point that he can't be saved!! This dog suffered for a YEAR, thats a long time.

  • Alexia Proper Mar 3, 2015
    user avatar

    I'm glad to hear some voices of reason here. While the dog was skin and bones, there's no evidence that she didn't provide it with food. Maybe the dog just couldn't keep any nourishment. Maybe there were other health issues other than IBS.

    I also appreciate some folks understanding that medical bills are expensive. I'd love to see those saying she can just go to the vet to offer free medical care for animals. It just can't be done.

    Unless she deliberately tried to hurt the animal, I see no reason to get upset with her.

  • Brandi Gaenzle Mar 3, 2015
    user avatar

    I am a huge animal lover. I would never want any harm done to any animal. But, from what i read from this article.. I don't see how this is at all "felony animal cruelty" I think this has been blown a little out of proportion. If you try to take care of animal and don't succeed you're a animal abuser??? Maybe she didn't have the means to get the animal the proper treatment. NOT EVERYONE can afford that mess. Taking care of animals is extremely expensive especially if they have special medical needs. I just think this was blown out of proportion. Unless there is a lot more to this story. I don't see how she's being charged with such a crime.

  • Derric Fuller Mar 3, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    I disagree. According to the article, she actually tried to care for the dog. Whether or not she had the monetary means or the empathetic mileage required to see to the dog's care is yet to be determined.

    I would also blame the veterinary clinic for not doing all they could to help this woman in helping the dog.

  • Sammy Macloud Mar 3, 2015
    user avatar

    "tried to care for dog"

    NO, she did NOT! Had she done so the dog would have been in better shape.

  • Matt Price Mar 2, 2015
    user avatar

    So here's the deal. We have to recognize that there are things we just can't do. And that is save dogs from everything.

    Especailly when the Vets are driven by cash inflow.

    She made an attempt, and tried to turn the dog in because the Vet's bill could not be handled and the dog was not improving.

    If the dog wasn't on it's way out why didn't the vet save it then?

    I think they are nailing her to the wall because they want to cover up their negligence.

  • Fred Garner Mar 2, 2015
    user avatar

    I applaud CSM Bate's service but his wife would have been better off taking the dog to the Vet more often or seeking advice and help from SPCA or some other agency.
    She starved the dog regardless of the food she provided. Bruno simply didn't receive the nourishment he needed to survive.
    She's guilty as sin in my opinion.

  • Dorinda Hayes Mar 2, 2015
    user avatar

    Well feeding the dog is a major part of taking care of a dog. The pic I saw of the dog was absolutely horrific.
    I cant imagine doing that to an animal. Not even a roach