Police: Animal abuser starves, threatens to hang dogs

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 29, 2013 

Samuel Russell

Every room soaked in dog feces and urine — that's how police described the state of a 17th Avenue home where five dogs were allegedly being starved before the alleged cruelty was reported Wednesday.

Samuel Russell, who claims no responsibility for the dogs, nonetheless faced five charges of animal cruelty and terroristic threats during a Friday morning Recorder's Court hearing.

Officers said they first began looking into 21-year-old Russell's treatment of the dogs after midnight Wednesday when his former girlfriend called.

She told police she had been trying to get her five dogs back for weeks following Russell kicking her out, and feared they were being mistreated. Her decision to contact police came after he allegedly sent her two threatening messages — one promising she "had a bullet coming" for her, the other warning that her "dogs will be hanging."

After ordering Russell to let police into the house, officers reported hastily filled food and water bowls that looked as if they had been left empty long before their arrival. In the bathroom, the toilet lid had been broken by dogs attempting to push it aside, looking for water.

Investigators described carpets throughout the house saturated with waste, and dogs that looked as if they had not been cared for in days. Many of the animals looked as if they had not been fed in weeks.

When officers asked Russell about the dogs, he said that it was his girlfriend's responsibility to care for them everyday. However, the girlfriend testified in court that Russell would not allow her to care for the dogs, which sparked her concern.

Russell also claimed that the threatening text message was a result of his bipolar disorder, and that he meant to say that the bullet was for him.

During court, Russell claimed to have fed the animals, but said the task was difficult.

"I've fed them, but there's only so much food," Russell said. "That Great Dane eats two or three bowls a day."

Judge Michael Joyner set Russell's bond at $10,000. His case will be forwarded to Muscogee County State Court.

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