32-year-old convicted of animal cruelty after dog left outside in frigid temps

Published: Nov. 7, 2019 at 5:58 PM EST
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(11/7/2019) - A Mt. Morris Township man was convicted of animal cruelty on Thursday after he left his dog outside in frigid temperatures with no shelter in December 2017.

Neighbors got concerned when it appeared the dog was barely able to walk while outside in a snowstorm and temperatures in the mid-20s.

A Genesee County jury found 32-year-old James Antonio Roche guilty of felony animal torture and a misdemeanor charge of failing to adequately care for one animal. He faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 10.

After neighbors called police to report the dog's condition, police found the pit bull-German Shepherd mix urinating uncontrollably with no food, water or shelter. An officer had to carry the dog to his patrol car to warm up.

Staff at the Genesee County Animal Shelter removed two T-shirts that had been tied around the dog's neck, which caused a deep 4-inch laceration. Authorities believe a pinch collar recently had been removed.

A veterinarian testified during the trial that the dog's wound was infected and required surgery. He believes the dog had been wearing the pinch collar for at least a month.

The pit bull-German Shepherd mix later recovered and was adopted to another family. A puppy tied up on the front porch of the residence also was seized and adopted to a new family.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Roche called and emailed police about the dog "with the messed up neck" and demanded they return it to him. He also threatened police and animal control officers on Facebook.

“This was a horrific case of animal torture,” Leyton said. “I cannot begin to comprehend how anyone could allow a puppy to suffer under such conditions,” he said.

He believes this case shows the need for tougher penalties in animal torture and cruelty cases around Michigan.