Can you help Alice – the dog in the box???

We were horrified to read about Alice, a 6-year old female Pit Bull from Toombs County, Georgia. She came to the attention of rescuers in January after they found her living in a small, disgusting box, completely disregarded by a man who told authorities that he was taking care of the dog for his son-in-law who rarely visited (we’re afraid to find out what his definition of “rarely” means). The man indicated that Alice was kept in the box because she was one of those “mean kind of dogs,” referring to the dog’s breed as Pit bull.

Alice - Photo courtesy of Southern Comfort Animal Rescue

First, let’s look at Alice’s living conditions for the PAST 6 YEARS:
• Lived in a 5’x 8’ box since she was a PUPPY!
• The box was constructed of rotted wooden boards, tin and chicken wire, constructed in way that Alice could only see sunlight through the cracks of the structure
• The floor of the structure was never cleaned or washed, so Alice stepped, slept and lived on years of caked urine and feces
• The water that was provided was disgustingly unsanitary
• Her diet consisted solely of white bread, honey buns and occasional scraps that were thrown into the box via the slats in the wood

Rescuers contacted the man’s son-in-law to inquire as to whether they could purchase Alice to get her out of these filthy conditions but their offer was refused. We can’t figure out why someone who never visited and self-evidently didn’t care about the animal would not want to receive money for it.
The rescuers countered that they would push for animal cruelty charges and contacted the sheriff of Toombs County to visit the premises; that man told the rescuers that he was sickened by what he saw and would indeed file charges. However, Chief Magistrate John Matheson interceded by stating that he would “throw out” any charges of animal cruelty.

Alice getting a visitor in her box - Photo courtesy of Southern Comfort Animal Rescue

Really Judge Matheson? As a judge, is it your responsibility to make a decision or reach a conclusion AFTER examining the factual evidence and, here is the important part, to form an opinion AFTER evaluating the facts and applying the law. Judges are also supposed to be independent, impartial arbiters who do not impose their own prejudices or preconceptions into a case but rather apply the law as it applies to the facts at hand.
As a bit of a refresher, we’ve listed below the rules and regulations for the state of Georgia pertinent to this case, also known as the “Georgia Animal Protection Act.

Alice's Box for the past years - Photo courtesy of Southern Comfort Animal Rescue

§ 4-11-2. Definitions
(4) “Humane care” of animals means, but is not limited to, the provision of adequate heat, ventilation, sanitary shelter, and wholesome and adequate food and water, consistent with the normal requirements and feeding habits of the animals size, species, and breed.

Ga. Comp. Rules & Regulations r. 40-11-2-.01 (2011)

(1) “Adequate food and water” means food and water, which is sufficient in amount and appropriate for the particular type of animal to prevent starvation, dehydration, or a significant risk to the animal’s health from a lack of food or water.

(a) Adequate food means palatable, non-contaminated, and nutritionally adequate food that is fed according to the species requirements or is fed as directed by a veterinarian. Adequate food does not include garbage.

(b) Adequate water means clean, fresh, potable water offered to pets at suitable intervals according to the species requirements, or as dictated by naturally occurring states of hibernation normal for the species, or as directed by a veterinarian.

(2) “Adequate temperature control” means indoor housing facilities for pets are sufficiently heated and/or cooled when necessary to protect the animals from excessive heat or from chilling, freezing or from any physical damage. Except for equines, the ambient temperatures should not be allowed to fall below 450F or rise above 850F, for animals that are not acclimated.

(3) “Adequate ventilation” means indoor housing facilities for pets are adequately ventilated to provide for the health of the animals at all times. Such facilities must be provided with fresh air either by means of windows, doors, vents, fans, or air conditioning and should be ventilated so as to minimize drafts, odors, and moisture condensation.

(14) “Humane care” of animals means, but is not limited to, the provision of adequate heat, ventilation, sanitary shelter, and wholesome and adequate food and water, consistent with the normal requirements and feeding habits of the animal’s size, species, and breed. Inhumane care includes any act, omission, or neglect, which causes unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death to any living animal.

(19) “Maintain” means to keep or keep up, or to keep in a certain condition.

(27) “Primary enclosure” means any structure or device used to restrict an animal or animals to a limited amount of space, such as a building, room, pen, run, cage, aquarium, hutch, stall, paddock, pasture, or animal transfer vehicle.

(31) “Sanitation” means the maintenance of conditions conducive to health and involves bedding changes (as appropriate), cleaning, and disinfection. Cleaning removes excessive amounts of dirt and debris, and disinfection reduces or eliminates unacceptable concentration of microorganisms. To sanitize, therefore, means to make physically clean, and, to the maximum degree practical, remove and destroy agents injurious to health.

§ 4-11-16. (2011) Penalties

(a) Except as otherwise provided in Code Section 16-12-4 or 16-12-37, any person violating any of the provisions of this article shall be GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR and shall be punished as provided in Code Section 17-10-3; provided, however, that if such offense is committed by a corporation, such corporation shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 for each such violation, community service of not less than 200 hours nor more than 500 hours, or both.

(b) Each violation of this article shall constitute a separate offense.

If you’re similarly outraged by Judge Mathison’s callous indifference to Alice’s plight, please join us by signing this petition urging him to reconsider his opinion and bring an end to the horrendous circumstances Alice must endure.  Southern Comfort Animal Rescue (SCAR = A scar means the pain is over and the healing can begin) has spearheaded this petition and is pushing for not only charges of animal cruelty but for Alice’s removal from the owner’s/son-in-law/daughter/etc care immediately.     Please take a moment to sign the petition here and write a letter or call Judge Matheson and Sheriff Knight of Toombs County.  Let Toombs County know that this horrendous behavior will not be tolerated.

Petition for Alice

Photo courtesy of Southern Comfort Animal Rescue

Chief Magistrate John “Chip” Matheson
147 Jerry Avenue
Lyons, GA, 30436
Work Phone: 912 -526- 8984
Fax: 912-526-8985

Sheriff Alvie Lee Kight, Jr.
912-526-6778

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14 Comments

  1. Kari Koch
    Posted March 22, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    “Ah caint undurstaind hwa the man wooden ‘cept no offurs.”

    Cute.

    If the “owner” had accepted an offer of cash payment for the animal, they would have been subject to penalty under the state’s animal husbandry law.

    Living things can’t be owned.

    As soon as you get The Law involved, people who were under educated, go into hiding and stay that way; perpatauting generations of ignorance, under education and lawlessness.

  2. Carmen Rose-Locke
    Posted March 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    It’s stuff like this that supports my view that most of our so called ‘civilised’ human race are a virus upon this Earth and people like us need to continue to dedicate our life to correcting the mistakes of the evil around us. Every ‘official’ that is allowing this to happen is just as responsible for her suffering as the ‘owners’. Whether or not her conditions have been ‘improved’, that is NO excuse for what she has endured and still is. Despicable. Sigh.

  3. Lori P.
    Posted March 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    What is wrong with these people? Why get an animal if you don’t love animals?

  4. alguien
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    i called the manager and spoke directly to him-for about 10 seconds. he hung up on me. i have a feeling it’s standard behavior on his part.

  5. admin
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Alicia you are amazing! Thank you for supporting Alice and those trying to rescue her. I just found out there will be a Rally at City Hall for this little gal, Alice. I will get you the details ASAP!

  6. admin
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi Beth and thanks for commenting. Apparently it doesn’t take that terribly much to be a Magistrate. It is a bit frightening actually. We appreciate you signing the petition. Any letters you could write are always appreciated once your computer is up and running! We appreciate your support and I am sure Alice does too!

  7. Alicia R. Russell
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I have been following this story daily. When I first found out about Alice– I cried for a week.
    My heart just broke for her– and the millions of animals who we can safely assume are in this exact same situation. Millions of prisoners in backyards, chained to trees or fences– God only knows. Lonely, miserable and waiting for someone to rescue them from their nightmare. This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night– worrying and wondering how some people in this world can be so cruel and heartless. I am so happy this has caused such a HUGE movement– and I will continue reading about her everyday.
    I even wrote to my local news channel AND Oprah to see if I could get some kind of response. I emailed and wrote a personal letter to the people in Georgia to PLEASE- For The Love Of God– to help this poor creature! I know if we do not give up– or forget about the animals– good things will continue to happen. Thank you everyone for your support. And I know the animals thank you from the bottom of their hearts. ARR

  8. Beth Feller
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    This story and the pictures of Alice are absolutely horrifying! I signed the petition for you but I just moved and my computer is not up so I can’t write letters yet. I can not believe what the requirements are to be a magistrate!!!! I always thought that they had to be an attorney. How do they get the job of magistrate? Is there any way to get rid of this person who thinks he can write his own laws????

  9. Nicole Ewing
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I guess under this jackwagon’s logic, no one could be prosecuted for murder because it “happened in the past.” Here in SC we have similar requirements for magistrates, but most of the ones I deal with (I’m an attorney) are willing to actually learn the law. If this had happened in the county in which I live, that woman would no longer have her animals.

  10. admin
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi Brian and thanks for your comments! Did you know what the requirements are to be a magistrate judge in GA? Three requirements: 1) be a resident of the county for at least one year, 2) have a high school diploma or its equivalent and 3) be at least 25 years old. I’m really frightened for Toombs County residents.

  11. zoeystory
    Posted February 12, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mind at all. The more people who know the better. Thanks!

  12. Posted February 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    I posted your lesson in the law as a separate note on facebook Hope you don’t mind

  13. Posted February 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Great page
    As a law graduate I love it. Just a shame that the judge in Toombs County (the County that says YES to animal cruelty) doesn’t seem to care about the law
    Perhaps someone should force him out of a job he’s obviously unsuited for.

  14. Kara Blackburn
    Posted February 12, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t know if you had received updated information. We came to discover that Alice is actually owned by the old man’s (the one “housing” Alice) daughter. She showed Scott Bennett from Southern Comfort Animal Rescue the purchase papers, where she had paid $500 for Alice. We were told that Alice had been bred “a couple times” but from the way her breasts sag, I would be willing to say that it was more than twice. So, the reason they don’t want to get rid of her is because they have been using her for breeding.

    The police officer that went out to see the conditions allowed Scott to base the conditions on which it would be okay to keep Alice. Scott told them that she needed adequate shelter, in a kennel appropriate for a dog, she needed water and food, as well as a complete medical examination. The owner did in fact move Alice into a larger chain link kennel with an igloo style dog house. There is a small bed pan style bucket being used for her water (which couldn’t possibly hold enough water for a pit bull for the days in between being checked on.) And several days in a row Alice’s dog dish was overturned in the same position, leading us to believe that she either has not been fed, or they are continuing to throw her food on the ground. (Which, to our amazement, a Lyons Police Officer said was okay. In fact, he said that’s the way he feeds his dogs…) She did get Alice vetted, but it was only a standard “healthy dog” vetting. There were no tests run to see if Alice has any internal parasites, heart worms, etc. But when Scott told the police and the magistrate judge that Alice needed further examination, they informed Scott that the case was dead. “The dog is healthy. We looked at her and we can tell.” I find it interesting that they can tell a dog is healthy just by looking at it, as any good vet will counter that tests must be run.

    The magistrate judge, Matheson, said that he would not approve animal cruelty charges, because the way the dog was treated was “in the past,” and that her situation had changed. I feel that it is also important to bear in mind that when Scott asked about previous years’ rabies certificates, Judge Matheson said that there was no law that says people have to get their dogs vaccinated… which we all know to be false.

    I’ll leave you on a final note that is continuously ringing in the back of my mind. The actual owner of Alice, told us that she has four other dogs. First off, I would love to see the condition that these animals are in. Secondly, I’m interested in knowing what she is using them for, after we have seen the condition that Alice was living in. I’m afraid there may be a darker, and illegal, purpose for them.

    Thank you for supporting Alice,
    Kara Blackburn

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