Property owner charged in animal abuse case | News

On a 96-hour hold for a mental health evaluation, a rural Joplin man purportedly threatened “to blow up the police department” if any of his animals were taken from his property.

Newton County deputies and an animal cruelty task force with the Humane Society of Missouri report having rescued 57 dogs and a few cats while serving a search warrant Tuesday at the man’s property south of Joplin on Aspen Road.

Many of the animals were malnourished and had inadequate shelter and little to no access to food or water.

Newton County Prosecutor Will Lynch filed a misdemeanor count of animal abuse and a felony count of making a terrorist threat Wednesday on the 24-year-old man even as he remained committed for the 96-hour hospital hold.

One of two probable-cause affidavits filed with the charges reveals additional details of what deputies and rescue workers found while serving the search warrant.

The document states that some of the dogs there had been running loose in the rural neighborhood in recent days, prompting complaints from other residents. A corgi dog had been struck by a vehicle and killed on Aspen Road, and several other dead dogs and cats were discovered on the property.

Deputies who went there last week had tried to contact the owner but could not find him. A relative told them that the owner was in Florida and was being held up in getting back to Missouri, according to the affidavit.

The mobile home at the address had been badly damaged in a recent fire and was not deemed inhabitable. There was no power to the property and no water source for the animals, according to the affidavit.

Deputies began feeding and watering the animals, although two of the dogs were so sickly they died during the three or four days that the deputies were tending them. A Labrador puppy taken to veterinarian clinic in Joplin was diagnosed with intestinal parasites, hookworms and coccidia and was termed extremely malnourished.

A detective who went to the property to photograph the abuses Monday came upon two dead dogs on top of a crate. Many of the pens that some of the dogs were confined in were filthy with feces, and their captives were visibly skinny and sick.

When the search warrant was obtained and served the next day, three dead black and silver foxes were found draped across the hood of a vehicle in the driveway, with no visible signs of what caused their deaths.

The affidavit states that a crate was found at the back of a fence that had not been spotted by deputies on prior visits. The crate was divided into three sections about 6 inches square in area. Crammed inside each of two of the sections were a Dachshund and a cat, with barely any room for either animal to move about and no food or water, according to the document.

Investigators subsequently learned that the owner had been to the property Sunday night and apparently brought those animals with him, the affidavit states. Deputies had run into him there that day and reported that he was burning something when they pulled up.

When the search warrant was served Tuesday, seven partially burned, dead animals — five dogs and two cats — were discovered behind the dog kennels. One of them had been burned while still in its crate, the others in a burn pile, according to the affidavit.

Inside the mobile home, the rescuers found another cat freshly killed and the headless body of yet another in the yard.

“Seeing animals trying to live in such horrific conditions amidst such unspeakable cruelty is heart-breaking,” Kathy Warnick, president of Humane Society of Missouri, said in a news release.

The rescued dogs were transported to the society’s Macklind headquarters in St. Louis, where they were to be evaluated and provided veterinarian treatment before being made available for adoption. The news release said that donations to support the care of the dogs and puppies can be made through the organization’s website at