Police officer is charged with animal cruelty His pet dalmatian died of neglect, authorities say

November 17, 1996|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

A 32-year-old Baltimore County police officer was arrested at work and charged with animal cruelty after his young dalmatian was found dead in the garage of his Bel Air home Friday, authorities said.

Officer Burl Vernon Joseph, an eight-year veteran assigned to the traffic division, was suspended with pay pending a departmental hearing Monday, said county police spokesman Bill Toohey.

Bel Air town police and Harford County animal control officials searched Joseph's home in the 600 block of East MacPhail Road Friday after receiving a call three days earlier that the year-old dalmatian and a beagle may have been left unattended in the house.

Animal control investigators had left a note on the door of the house, and obtained a search warrant after receiving no response, said George Harrison, a spokesman for the Harford County government.

Mail was found in the doorway and several pieces of furniture appeared to be missing, leading police to believe the house had been unoccupied for several weeks, police said.

The dog's carcass was found in the garage, near the door, police said, adding that there was no food there and water was in a tub that appeared difficult for the dog to reach.

"I'm an animal lover and it's pretty appalling to know people would leave their animals untreated," said Deputy Chief John W. Harkins of the Bel Air Police Department. "It was a very sickening site to see an animal that appeared to have been left alone for weeks.

"It was basically a skeleton with a hide on it."

No other dogs were found in the house.

Joseph was arrested at the Baltimore County police department in Towson Friday night and later released on his own recognizance. His telephone number was disconnected, and he could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Neighbors described Joseph as a kind man who, along with his son, walked his dogs along the street, but within the past two weeks no one had been seen at the house.

Some neighbors said they had not seen Joseph's wife or son for months.

They said he told them he had given the animals to a family who lived in the country.

"The strange thing is we never saw people there much these past few months, but I didn't think the dogs were left there," said neighbor Lillie Arnett, 71. "I was dreadfully upset when I heard that the little black-and-white dalmatian I always used to see out in the doghouse and running in the yard with the hound dog was dead.

"He was always so friendly and pretty, and I just loved to pet him when he'd come over to the fence."

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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