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Barnesville Man Accused of Abusing Dog, Charged With Felony

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank Denver Lee Woodburn, left, confers with Probation Officer Edward Gorence during his arraignment this week. He is charged with animal abuse.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A second person in Belmont County is being prosecuted under a relatively new law that raises animal abuse from a misdemeanor to a felony charge.

Denver Lee Woodburn, 55, of Barnesville, was arraigned Monday before Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato. He pleaded innocent to prohibitions concerning a companion animal between March and April. The charge is a fifth-degree felony that carries with it the possibility of 12 years in prison.

Woodburn is the second person in the county to be prosecuted under what is known as Goddard’s Law. The first instance was in 2017 when Michael Chedester was convicted of shooting two dogs that had wandered onto his property while he was hunting.

Woodburn’s trial was set for Oct. 11 and he is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 10. Fregiato released him on his own recognizance and ordered that he not have contact with or possession of animals.

Prosecutor Dan Fry said the dog was euthanized after apparently suffering severe injuries.

“This is the second time that I’m aware of within the past two or three years that the harm has risen to the level of substantial physical harm, which is a felony offense,” said Fry.

Fry also said his office intends to pursue the maximum sentence.

Fry said the case started out as a 911 hangup call. When police responded to the residence, they said the original domestic issue between Woodburn and Cassandra Crooks was relatively minor. But then, he said, Crooks suggested to authorities that they check the dog.

“Her exact words were that he’d attempted to saw the dog’s leg off,” he said.

Officers found a female Shih Tzu. Reports say the dog’s name was Bella.

“It was in very poor condition,” said Fry. “It had matted hair over it’s entire body. It did in fact have a right front leg that had a cut on it consistent with being cut. The back legs were severely matted with hair and the dog obviously spent a considerable amount of time licking and chewing at that area because both legs were infected.

“He had indicated at the time that we found the dog that he was attempting to cut the matted hair from the dog’s front leg,” he said. “We gave that explanation to the vet when we took the dog to the vet, and that’s inconsistent … with what we found medically upon the dog being examined.

“The injury had taken place maybe up to two months prior to us even getting there, so this is poor dog was living in misery for an extended period of time, and but for the 911 call, the domestic incident between these two, we may have never known about this,” he said.

Fry said personnel from the Belmont County Animal Shelter transported the dog to a veterinarian, who indicated that the cut leg would likely need to be amputated. But after considering the dog’s overall condition and high temperature, they decided to euthanize the dog.

He could not say if any charges might be brought against Crooks.

“At this point, I don’t know exactly what her relationship was and the extent to which she was at that home,” Fry said.

Belmont County Dog Warden Lisa Williams said she transported the dog to the veterinarian and provided information to the grand jury, but said she was unable to discuss more details. She asked that anyone suspecting a case of animal abuse contact the authorities.

“If they see their neighbor’s dog in bad shape or something, they should call their local police department,” said Williams.

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