Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 30, 2013

Resolution not trial in 2011 dog cruelty case

Attorneys working on a ‘resolution’.

By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer

— It looks as if the animal cruelty charge against Kokomo resident Don Lambert won’t be going to trial after all.

Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann said Wednesday negotiations are underway to bring Lambert’s charge “to a resolution.”

Lambert had 109 small dogs at his North Apperson Way residence in 2011 when police served a search warrant on the property.

Staff from the Kokomo Humane Society helped police during the raid, taking dogs out of Lambert’s home, his backyard and from an non-air-conditioned garage behind the home.

McCann declined to discuss whether or not Lambert would plead guilty to the single misdemeanor charge. The case was set to head to a jury trial Feb. 8.

Lambert’s case was originally set to go to a bench trial in February 2012, but has been delayed multiple times since then, three times at the request of the defense, and twice either jointly or at the prosecutor’s discretion.

In the garage, dogs were kept two or three to a cage, and the cages were stacked two and three deep.

Melissa Justice, a field veterinarian from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, examined all of the dogs and said seven of the animals were in significant pain from poor health conditions. All seven of the animals were later euthanized, after prosecutors asked Tate for permission.

The veterinarian said it was unlikely any of the seven would recover “in a timely manner and without significant pain ...”

Humane Society director Jean McGroarty later said about 90 percent of the dogs taken from the Lamberts’ property were later adopted out, with the remaining 10 percent euthanized.

Lambert is unlikely to receive any jail time for a misdemeanor first offense.

Under Indiana law, the abandonment or neglect of an animal is charged as misdemeanor animal cruelty, while torturing, maiming or intentionally killing an animal is charged as a felony, with the exception of humane euthanasia.

Lambert’s attorney, Bradley Hamilton, said after the 2011 police raid that Lambert was running a well-meaning rescue operation.

The Humane Society is expected to ask for restitution, after incurring significant expense in housing the animals, medical care and facilitating adoptions.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com.

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