Local News

Court appoints attorney for woman charged with animal cruelty

Posted December 14, 2015 8:27 a.m. EST
Updated December 14, 2015 6:58 p.m. EST

— The wheels of justice have begun to turn, slowly, for a Cary woman charged with animal cruelty.

Katharine F. Lemansky, 45, was the subject of a social media storm after she posted a picture to Facebook of her chocolate lab-mix dog with its mouth taped shut. Within hours of her post, hundreds of thousands of people saw and shared the photo, and law enforcement in Florida – where Facebook indicated she lived – began an investigation.

Ultimately, the post was traced to Lemansky in Cary and she was charged with a misdemeanor.

On Monday in a brief court appearance, she got a court-appointed lawyer to handle her defense.

If convicted, Lemansky faces a fine and a possible jail sentence of up to 150 days.

Police did not remove the dog from Lemansky's custody because Cary Police Capt. Randall Rhyne said there were no signs of injury to the dog's muzzle or detectable hair loss from the duct tape, and the dog appeared well cared for. But the picture of the dog sparked national outcry on social media.

"I think it is really indicative of the times we live in when you add social media and digital space to an animal cruelty case," said Erica Geppi with the North Carolina Humane Society. "This this particular case it was literally international outcry for justice for this animal."

On WRAL's Facebook page alone, 21,000 people interacted with the post - commenting and sharing. There are currently two online petitions asking to have the animal taken away from Lemansky.

"The reaction from the community is actually a really positive sign because it means that we live in a community where people care enough to not be afraid to speak out on the behalf of animals," said Kim Janzen, the Wake County SPCA director.