A Toledo man charged with animal cruelty could have his case dismissed and sealed if he successfully completes classes through a court-run program.
Photo from the Toledo Area Humane Society of T-Bone chained in the back yard in the 900 block of Evesham on Nov. 15.
Deji Lee, 45, pleaded no contest Thursday in Toledo Municipal Court to an animal cruelty charge, but Judge Nicole Khoury withheld a finding of guilty to allow Mr. Lee a chance to go through the alternatives program. That program allows first-time offenders to avoid conviction if they successfully complete “structured classes” that involve discussions about “making good choices and staying out of trouble,” according to the court’s website.
Mr. Lee was charged Nov. 29 after his dog, T-Bone, was seized in the 900 block of Evesham Avenue. The dog was very thin and on a heavy chain in the back yard. Neighbors had reported the dog as possibly dead, as he was not coming out of his dog house and had no insulation against the cold, Stephen Heaven, president and chief executive of the Toledo Area Humane Society, said at the time.
“He was just skin and bones,” Mr. Heaven said.
A Humane Society representative was present at the hearing Thursday and consented to the plea agreement.
T-Bone quickly put on weight after he was seized and has since been adopted to a new family.
Scott Kunzler, the prosecutor assigned to the case, said Mr. Lee had no criminal history and agreed to the alternatives program to be fair and consistent with past practice. An individual can only enter the program once. If Mr. Lee successfully completes the program, his case will be dismissed and his record sealed.
Judge Khoury said other animals owned by Mr. Lee were found to be in good health, and gave him until June 22 to complete the program. A hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on June 29 for his case to be sealed.
“I don’t believe anyone here thinks this is in your character,” Judge Khoury said of the animal cruelty charge.
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