UPDATE: "Dan the Dog" Case Dismissed
Update: All charges against Robert Cron of Roundhill have been dropped by District Court Judge John M. McCarty. The case was dismissed dismissed due to failure of the prosecutor, Greg Hill, to show up for the case. Hill was named special prosecutor when County Attorney Richard Deye asked to be excused from the case due to a legal history with Mr. Cron. The over two year legal battle has had several court dates scheduled only to be postponed.
Original Story:Butler County Sheriff Scottie Ward spoke to Beech Tree News this week about his perceived role in the animal cruelty charges levied against local citizen advocate Robert Cron.
Cron, 71, of Roundhill, is charged in Butler District Court with Cruelty to Animals, 2nd degree, after he allegedly shot an 11-month-old Beagle puppy belonging to his neighbor, Brian Vincent. Court documents allege that Cron shot the animal after it destroyed personal property at his residence in late September.
Sheriff Ward feels like his part in the incident has been overstated by both Cron and a local news outlet to make it look as if he has a vendetta against Cron. Ward also says information was not made public, which clarifies his role in the incident.
Ward said that because his office handles animal control in the county that Cron called him to report the dog was running on his property and was a nuisance. Ward said that after questioning Cron that he determined that the dog was not dangerous, and it was not a call that animal control handles. “It was a rabbit dog running rabbits,” said Sheriff Ward.
The next time he was contacted concerning the dog it was from again from Cron, on September 26th. Cron called the sheriff to report shooting the dog in the leg. Later that day the dog’s owner called the sheriff as well. Vincent reported to Ward that the animal had been shot, allegedly by Cron, and was being treated by a veterinarian. It was Vincent’s call that caused Sheriff Ward to further investigate the incident. “I had a complaint made against Mr. Cron. I had to investigate it,” the sheriff told BTN.
The sheriff said that Mr. Cron admitted shooting the animal and produced the weapon used, a Ruger .22 caliber rifle. He also showed the sheriff blood on the tailgate of his truck where he said he laid the dog after it was shot. Cron showed Ward the damage to his property. “There was a small spot of gravel that had been disturbed where the dog had dug in it trying to chase a rabbit into a building on Mr. Cron’s property,” said the sheriff.
Ward pieced together the events of the shooting as follows. The dog owned by Vincent was chasing a rabbit across Mr. Cron’s property. When the rabbit ran into a barn/shed to escape the dog attempted to follow, but could not fit through the gap used by the rabbit. The dog dug in the loose gravel to try to gain entry to the barn, and was shot by Cron.
“The Vincents came to me about this. There was a sizable vet bill and they were upset about their dog,” said Ward. He continued, “I did my investigation and gave the case work to (County Attorney) Dick (Deye).” Ward feels that the incident could have been kept out of the court system entirely if Cron had offered to pay the vet bill from the shooting, which came to $1,850.56. Ward said that Vincent also reported to him that the dog will never be able to hunt again.
County Attorney Dick Deye reviewed the case and decided to refer it to Ohio County Attorney Greg Hill. Deye asked Hill to review the facts of the case and determine if charges should be filed. Deye cited his reasons for referring the case to a special prosecutor as Cron’s very active interest in local government, his unsuccessful campaign for Butler County Judge-Executive, his frequent letters to the editor concerning county government, and his many open records requests and open meeting complaints.
In a letter dated November 3rd, 2011, Deye wrote to Hill, “Because of the Open Records Requests and Open Meetings Violations I have an above average involvement with Mr. Cron. We often disagree. I believe it benefits Butler County Government to disagree without being disagreeable.”
“I am concerned that if I make a decision to prosecute Mr. Cron for cruelty to animals that Mr. Cron and his supporters may view it some type of retribution for the presumed aggravation Mr. Cron’s actions occasion upon Butler County Government. If I make a decision not to prosecute Mr. Cron, some may view that Mr. Cron is receiving favorable treatment because of his profile in the community. Likewise, if he is not prosecuted, Mr. Cron may mistakenly believe his actions were justified.”
Sheriff Ward told BTN that in his opinion the case comes down to, “Robert (Cron) shot a dog he had no business shooting. He shot a rabbit dog for running rabbits.”
On Tuesday, in the interest of fairness, Beech Tree News contacted Robert Cron by phone to make him aware of Ward’s statements and ask for comments.
Cron, on January 10th, strongly refuted several items brought up by Sheriff Ward, principal among them the breed of the dog in question. “That’s no Beagle hound. If it is, it’s like no Beagle I’ve ever seen,” said Cron. Cron continued saying, “If you do what you should you’ll get pictures of the dog and let people see what it is.” Mr. Cron suggests that the dog is a border collie, not a beagle. “Ask the vet what kind of dog it is,” said Cron.
Contacted by BTN, the Heritage Animal Hospital confirmed that the animal was treated by Dr. Van Cohron, DVM and Dr. Joy Wells, DVM. Officials at the hospital said that their records show the dog as an 11-month-old, male, tri-color Beagle, although the owner of the dog says that it is only black and white in color. The owner told BTN that the dog, Dan, is a registered, full-stock, German Beagle, that cost $500.00.
“I got the dog for my son,” said Brian Vincent, Dan’s owner. Vincent’s son Heath picked the dog and named him, said Vincent. “It’s Heath’s dog, he picked him out and named him. I got him because I know he (Heath) is going to want to go hunting with me soon and I wanted to have a good little rabbit dog,” said Vincent. The dog was already jumping and running rabbits at ten months, according to Vincent, and seemed to have the makings of a good hunting dog. “I had high expectations for the dog,” Vincent said.
Cron says the dog did run rabbits, but was a nuisance. “It drug (stuff) out of my building that I had to get out there and pick up. It dug holes all over my yard that had to be filled in. It stole my shoes off the porch,” said Cron.
Mr. Cron also says that he “saved the dog,” and the shooting was accidental. Cron stated that he was trying to shoot close to the dog to scare it, and the animal backed up just as he pulled the trigger. “I didn’t want to see the animal lay there and suffer, so I managed to get out there and load it in a wheelbarrow and bring it and put it on the tailgate of my truck, but it wasn’t easy,” said Cron. At the time Mr. Cron was suffering from two bad knees and had double knee replacement surgery shortly after the shooting. After retrieving the dog Cron said he called Heritage Animal Hospital about what to do with the dog and found out that whomever brings in the animal is responsible for the bill. “I didn’t want the animal to suffer and die, but I wasn’t about to pay for it,” said Cron.
Cron called Vincent who went to Cron’s house to get the wounded animal. “I went right over there and got Dan,” Vincent said on Wednesday. He went on to say, “I told him, ‘You didn’t have to shoot the dog’ and told him I would have payed for or fixed whatever he tore up.” Crystal Oliver said the dog was in “bad shape” when Vincent picked it up. “Little Dan was in shock,” said Oliver, “I didn’t think he would make it.”
Brian Vincent, says that the dog had been put up for almost two weeks before the shooting. “I came home and there was a rabbit in the yard so I turned Dan out to let him run it,” said Vincent. Oliver said that Vincent was in standing in the back door of their house calling the dog home when Cron called to tell them he shot the dog.
Dan is fine now said both Vincent and Oliver, except for one lasting effect of the shooting. “He’s gun-shy now,” said Vincent, “He will still run a rabbit, but if you shoot a gun anywhere around him he just hunkers up.” Vincent is upset because his plans to let his son raise the dog and hunt with him will have to be changed. “Dan is a healthy, happy, good little dog,” said Oliver, “but he will never be really happy because won’t be able to hunt with Brian and Heath.”
The $1,850.56 vet’s bill was paid by Butler County Animal Assistance. BCAA’s Mike Porter said that his agency could still sue Cron to recover their money. “Even if Judge lets him out of this we’re still going to want our money,” said Porter. Brian Vincent made it clear to BTN that he had not filed charges nor had he filed any lawsuit against Cron yet. “We didn’t press charges, and I haven’t sued, but the fact is I’ve got a lot of money in that dog and thanks to Robert Cron it won’t hunt,” said Vincent.
Cron maintains that he will have his day in court, and that he will be cleared. His defense is that he didn’t violate Kentucky Revised Statute 525.130. He says that he was justified because the dog was a pest and that he violated no other portion of the law that would constitute Animal Cruelty, second degree.
The charge is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $500. Cron is scheduled to appear in Butler District Court on January 19th.
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Story by Joe K. Morris, Beech Tree News.