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1 charged, 1 convicted of animal cruelty

Officers offer tips to pet owners during hot days

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

Animal cruelty has been a hot topic lately for two Lincoln County men.
Lincolnton resident Joshua Keaton Parrish, 23, of 3156 Our Place, was charged Tuesday with one count of cruelty to animals.
Lincoln County Animal Control Officer Robert Maxwell told the Times-News this week that a boxer under Parrish’s care died after it was left out in the heat with no shade or water, two resources that he stressed animals need in ample supply this time of year.
“Water and shade, water and shade, water and shade,” he said. “That’s what they need to beat the heat.”
Maxwell noted that in sweltering heat, animals should never be left in open sun or even doghouses, which he said quickly become “ovens.” He also suggested that owners place tarps over their pets and even secure water bowls and other water sources to prevent them from dumping over during the day.
“Tie buckets down; attach them to fences and buildings,” he said. “The animals need our help.”
Maxwell noted that in early May, before temperatures even reached triple digits, Animal Control officers received three calls one week regarding dogs that had been left in vehicles, another location where temperatures turn deadly for animals.
More often than not, residents leave their pets inside their cars while making what they believe are “quick” stops inside Wal-Mart and other local food stores, but even a cracked window doesn’t always allow for enough cool air to save an animal’s life. Maxwell said that temperatures inside vehicles can reach between 20 and 50 degrees hotter than outside air.
“As temperatures go higher, the cars become death traps,” he said. “They (owners) are cooking their dogs.”
He advised owners who insist on taking their pets for a drive to remember to keep track of their shopping time, park in shaded areas and provide cool water.
Last week, a guilty verdict was additionally handed down to an Iron Station man for animal cruelty, less than a year after Gaston County Animal Control Officers raided his then out-of-county residence where he and another man had been harboring more than a dozen mistreated and malnourished dogs.
Wesley Scott Ghantt, 44, of 3722 Highway 27, formerly of Mitchem Road in Gastonia, pleaded guilty to four of seven counts of animal cruelty charges on June 29, according to Maxwell, who at the time of the incident, worked for the Gaston County agency.
Following the guilty plea, Ghantt was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation along with 25 hours of community service at the Gaston County Animal Control facility. He’s additionally required to pay restitution care for the seized dogs, and during his probation period, is prohibited from owning dogs or living at a home where dogs are present, Maxwell said.
Ghantt was also originally charged with 16 counts of failure to purchase county dog tags and two counts of failure to obtain vaccinations following a raid on his home in October 2011. The charges have since been dropped as part of the plea deal, Maxwell said.
During the incident, officers found 13 poodles, beagles and Chihuahuas, among other breeds, in starved conditions, including two deceased dogs, an archived Times-News article.
At the home, officers found filthy water bowls and skeleton-like dogs living in their own feces.
Maxwell commended the work of the justice system and how discipline had finally reached Ghantt.
“This was a big win for Gaston County and justice for the animals involved,” he said. “I hope this sends a message that you can’t get by with harming or neglecting your animals.”
David Evander Cooper III, 54, of 3712 Mitchem Road, also faces charges in the case but has yet to stand trial. Ghantt had allegedly paid Cooper to care for the dogs, Animal Control officers said.
According to the North Carolina Department of Correction website, Ghantt was additionally convicted of felony embezzlement in Mecklenburg County in 2010.

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