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Prosecuting Animal Abusers
BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- The battle over animal rights is definitely firing up right here in the tri-state and you may soon see animal abuse become a felony charge rather than the current misdemeanor.
The catalyst for all of this is clearly a pathetic, abused German shepherd named Joseph who's currently being cared for at the West Chester Veterinary Center. Local 12's Rich Jaffe first introduced us to Joseph 10 days ago and joins us from the clinic with an update.
This sweet tempered, loving dog is now getting the love and attention he deserves.
Joseph has been vaccinated for the first time, his infections are under control and he's putting on weight. He now has a room filled with donated dog toys and pillows.
It's a far cry from the years he was chained to a tree behind this Middletown home. He's also developed a worldwide following.
Clinic Manager Mike Gigis says, We've been getting 50,000 hits a day on our Facebook page. It's a Facebook page that normally receives 100 to 150 hits a day. We've had requests for videos, video updates, and pictures, just an outpouring of love. We're getting a lot of emails from Europe as far away as Lebanon."
2000 people have said they would like to adopt Joseph. While he still has heartworms, treatment for that will begin in a few weeks when he gets stronger. His previous owner, Jeremy Shane Temple, heads to court in Middletown on October 28 (formerly October 14) on three misdemeanor animal cruelty related charges.
But many people believe Ohio needs felony charges in cases like this. Nine days ago, due to budget cuts and county reorganization, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones assumed the duties of the dog warden.
He says, We've had too many cases around this area, and basically all over the country. I don't know if it's the bad economy or what it is but we need to send a strong message and they need to go to jail and they need to go to jail for long periods of time."
Friday Jones sent an email to the Buckeye Sheriff's Association seeking support for an effort to change Ohio laws on animal abuse.
He told Local 12, They're gonna go to jail. We're gonna get the maximum time we can but it's time to take it up to a felony level. I'm trying today to get in touch with a state legislator that will support this and take it up to the house and get this passed."
Jeremy Temple's due in Middletown Municipal court October 28 (formerly October 14).
PAWS is the rescue group that saved Joseph and they're expecting a big turnout for a demonstration at the courts building Monday, October 14 in support of the pit bull that was also found abused and starved.
Investigators tell us that "Joseph" was chained to a tree at Temple's Middletown home for anywhere between 2 and four years.
The temple's also have at least one other dog.
Watch video HERE