Jessie Woodruff had been told several times that if he neglected or abused any more dogs he'd be charged with animal cruelty. Whether he was warned that the charge would be a felony is unknown.
At any rate, Woodruff, 30, of Longview, looks to be being made an example of by Cowlitz County prosecutors, who have charged him with first-degree animal cruelty in the death of his golden retriever mix "Lil Miss."
. . . in mid-September, a citizen reported that a dog was starving to death at Woodruff's residence. Nicholson said an animal control officer responded immediately, but it was too late. When police arrested Woodruff, he admitted he had been capable of caring for Lil Miss but just didn't feed her, according to court documents.
An autopsy indicated the visibly malnourished dog died of starvation and/or an untreated medical condition. However, no fatal medical condition was documented, court records said.
Last winter Woodruff had been found with three starving dogs tied up outside his house. Under pressure from the Humane Society, Woodruff had apparently agreed to give up two of the dogs, but was allowed to keep Lil Miss as long as he promised to, you know, feed her.
Instead, prosecutors say, Lil Miss was sent back outside to be chained up to a tree. And while the dog was reportedly getting healthier and gaining weight this summer, by the fall the dog was once again emaciated.
Unfortunately, by the time authorities visited Woodruff's house again, the dog was dead, his owner allegedly perfectly capable of caring for her, but simply having failed to feed her.
The felony charge itself is a first for the county, which typically charges people with second-degree animal cruelty, a misdemeanor.