A 1997 animal cruelty case continues to have consequences on the Lawrence Humane Society.
More than a year after it seized the first of 16 mistreated pit bull terriers, the Lawrence Humane Society wants to euthanize the surviving animals.
Lawrence resident Ernest C. Martin is charged with 16 counts of cruelty to animals in the case. A hearing on several defense motions is scheduled for mid-November.
But the slow pace of justice is causing problems for the humane society. While Martin's criminal case makes its way through the court system, the humane society is fronting the animals' care cost, now estimated around $17,000.
Because the dogs are evidence in the case, the humane society has been forced to provide veterinary care, food and shelter. Keeping the dogs also is resulting in the early euthanization of other pets because of limited space at the Lawrence shelter.
The humane society this month filed a civil lawsuit against Martin. The suit asks that it be allowed to put the dogs to death.
"We're asking for this purely because (Martin) hasn't paid for any of their upkeep while they've been here," said Midge Grinstead, Lawrence Humane Society director. "There's a $17,000 bill that we probably won't get a dime for. When you figure $5 a day for 16 dogs, that alone costs money, and there have been extensive vet bills."
Eleven of the pit bulls were seized from a residence at 1820 Vt. on Oct. 20, 1997; the other five were taken on May 28. Since then, one of the dogs died, and two were euthanized because they were extremely sick, Grinstead said.
The dogs can't be adopted because of their aggressiveness.
Martin, 22, faces misdemeanor criminal charges for not providing adequate food, shelter and care. He is free on bail.
The inevitable euthanizations will be hard on the shelter's staff, Grinstead said, because they have grown attached to the less aggressive pit bulls in the group.
A judge will decide at a Nov. 16 hearing whether Martin's requests to withhold evidence in the case will stand.
His attorney has asked that photographs of the basement at 1820 Vt. and a dead dog found there by police not be allowed as evidence. He also wants to bar prosecutors from "presenting any evidence whatsoever concerning the animals seized" at 1820 Vt., because Martin claims they aren't his dogs.
Martin's attorney, Al Lopes, also is seeking to bar prosecutors from entering any testimony or evidence concerning dog fighting. Martin has not been charged with dog fighting.
Grinstead has said some of the dogs showed signs of fighting and scarring.
Martin's home is listed in court records as 3007 University Dr.
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is email@example.com.