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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 12 November 2007 Issue

Police Officer pleads guilty to starving dog - No Jail, keeps his job!


Gaffney, SC - Officer pleads guilty to starving dog - No Jail, keeps his job!

[Editors note: read our response and address to send protests after article.]


A Gaffney police officer will keep his job after pleading guilty Thursday to starving his dog late last year.
John Fuller, 28, of 503 Beech St., who is also a former animal control officer, served 35 minutes in jail after Cherokee County Chief Magistrate Bart Howell sentenced him to time served with no monetary fine, after he pleaded guilty to ill treatment of animals.

Fuller was booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center at 9:35 a.m. and was discharged at 10:10 a.m., according to jail records.

A conviction for ill treatment of animals carries up to 60 days in jail and a fine of between $100 and $500. Howell said he completely suspended the fine and wouldn't comment on the sentence.

Fuller was accused of neglecting to feed his full-grown female Boxer, which weighed
32 pounds when an animal control officer seized it from Fuller's former residence on Oct. 30, 2006, after he moved a couple of days before, according to police documents.

The average size for a female boxer is between 55 pounds and 65 pounds.

Judy Wyles, the founder of a Gaffney-based animal rescue group, saw the dog the day she came into the animal shelter and documented the case.  Wyles turned her files over to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division, which charged Fuller on Thursday following an investigation. Fuller pleaded guilty that same morning.

"The veterinarian who treated Flossie said she couldn't say for sure how long the dog had been without food, but it was weeks, maybe months, with the exception of maybe throwing something out there just enough for her to eat to keep her alive," Wyles said. "This isn't a dog who just didn't eat for two days."

The dog was under a vet's care for about a week to begin nourishment and so the doctor could run tests to make sure she had no other health problems causing it not to eat.

"The only thing that was wrong with Flossie was she wasn't given food to eat," Wyles said.

Wyles said Fuller later signed an owner-release document giving her permission to adopt the dog, which she has since done. Wyles said she's seen other dogs in a similar condition to Fuller's dog, but they're often strays.

"I've never seen another owner-surrendered dog to look like that," she said.

City Administrator James Taylor said Fuller was hired on Sept. 19, 2006, as a city police officer after working as a Cherokee County animal control officer.

Taylor said Fuller will retain his job and won't be subject to a reprimand.

"The police chief just briefed me on this a few minutes ago, and I haven't seen the court documents," Taylor said. "But I understand this is a misdemeanor, like a speeding ticket, and he can still work as a police officer."

Taylor wouldn't comment on whether someone would be hired with a conviction for ill treatment of animals on their criminal record and said he looks at their work history and ethic when deciding whether an employee will be suspended or terminated.

"You have to look to see whether a person made a bad mistake or a series of bad mistakes and determine how that outweighs other performance," Taylor said, adding he wasn't trying to justify the crime.

Neither Fuller nor his attorney, Trent Pruett, could be reached for comment.


Alison L. Gianotto
[email protected]
1-888-523-PETS ext. 100

From Jill, Staff Contributor, Animals in Print

This is an outrage - he served 35 minutes in jail.  Do the people of Gaffney, SC really want someone who would starve a dog for weeks on end acting as a peace officer, as someone who is supposed to protect them?  It's bad enough John Fuller got away with no jail time, and a paltry fine - the fact that he's able to keep his job is reprehensible.

This guy was a former Animal Control Officer - he knew damn well what an animal needs to survive, and what an animal looks like when its in distress. Shame on him, and shame on the Gaffney, SC police department for keeping a monster like Fuller on the payroll.  Cops are *supposed* to be the good guys.  They are supposed to *protect* the innocent.

"Taylor wouldn't comment on whether someone would be hired with a conviction for ill treatment of animals on their criminal record, and said he looks at their work history and ethic when deciding whether an employee will be suspended or terminated."

His ethic??  If Taylor looks at an employees ethics, HOW does Fuller still have a job? This was a proven case of prolonged neglect, in which Flossie clearly suffered.

Contact Mr. Taylor to urge him to reconsider allowing John Fuller to keep his position as a police officer in the city of Gaffney, use the contact information below:

City of Gaffney
Mr. James Taylor
City Administrator
PO Box 2109
Gaffney, SC 29342-2109
[email protected]

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