Man who walked dog from car is convicted of animal cruelty Incident left pet's paws bloody

owner also found guilty on drug charges

July 25, 1996|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,Sun Staff

A dog owner who injured his pet by walking it from a moving car was convicted yesterday on three animal cruelty counts and a pair of drug charges in Dundalk District Court.

Scott Theodore Eckrote, who has moved from Pikesville to Reisterstown since his arrest in the highly publicized incident, faces a maximum of 21 months in jail and $4,500 in fines at sentencing scheduled for Aug. 1 -- and could lose his dog, Barkley, as well.

Eckrote, 25, a mortgage company loan officer, was convicted by Judge Barbara Jung of unlawful torment to an animal, causing it unnecessary pain and suffering and failing to provide veterinary care.

He also was found guilty of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia found by police officers investigating a neighbor's complaint of cruelty to the 100-pound Chesapeake Bay retriever.

The "car-dog walking," as the judge termed it, was not an isolated incident.

"At the time I did it, I thought it was good," Eckrote testified yesterday. "Barkley's a big, big dog and he loves to run I thought it was healthy, good for him."

On at least two other occasions, Eckrote said, Barkley seemed to like it -- and it saved the owner the trouble of becoming exhausted himself in giving the dog a chance to run.

But on Nov. 16, as Barkley ran to keep up with the moving car on a leash Eckrote held out the window, the thick pads of his paws were worn down to the tissue.

Neighbors testified that Eckrote was driving about 30 mph, took corners so quickly that the tires screeched, that Barkley was struggling at a gallop to keep up -- and once collided with the side of his car with a thump.

Neighbor Marie Sanders testified that when she told Eckrote his dog could have gotten hurt, the owner replied, "I'll just get another dog."

She called 911 to tell police what she saw and what he said.

Two police officers who arrived at his apartment, at that time in the first block of Tentmill Lane, noticed the aroma of marijuana and found a water pipe and plastic bags of marijuana under a couch.

Officer William Lally testified that he also examined Barkley and found the dog could hardly stand. Lally said the dog's paw pads were worn away as if they "had been sanded," and were "oozing blood."

Eckrote said he was unaware of any serious injury to the dog before the police arrived. He said he returned to the apartment, where he had a beer, smoked marijuana and took a shower, and had not seen the blood.

When the officers pointed out the injuries, he thought they were "blisters" that did not require medical attention, Eckrote said.

Assistant State's Attorney Daniel Bernard Trimble called Eckrote's act "outrageous" and said in his closing argument, "Normal people don't walk their dog this way."

But Eckrote's lawyer, Leonard H. Shapiro, insisted that although his client made a foolish choice, he did not do it to hurt Barkley.

Several friends, family members, co-workers and Eckrote's veterinarian testified to his excellent care with the dog, saying he would never deliberately hurt him.

In delivering the verdict, Jung said that whether Eckrote meant to hurt the dog was not the issue -- whether torment occurred was.

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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