DA's Office Won't Press Animal Cruelty Charges Against "Porch Pup" Owner

It didn't take long before people as far as the UK had heard of the “porch pup.”

What happened to this pup over the past week has triggered outrage on social media, protests, and an outpouring of support and sympathy from animal-loving groups across the country. In a press conference yesterday, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson assured reporters that it is a “happy ending” for the porch pup. Those protesting outside of the Harris County Jail Thursday, however, would disagree.

Here's where everything started: Amber Cammack, noticing a dog with a shoe-string (or, what many believed was a telephone cord) wrapped around its muzzle and wearing a diaper duct-taped to its hind legs, apparently climbed up the side of the condo building to snap pictures of the dog on this porch. She posted the photos on Facebook—along with the owner's private information and address—after Cammack, who looks for missing children as a private investigator, claims the Harris County Sheriff's Office ignored her pleas to help the dog. 

The post went viral and outraged animal lovers—and also got Cammack arrested, after Sheriff Ron Hickman, for some reason, put in a personal phone call to Cammack asking that she take down the post, or else, as the Houston Chronicle reported. Spokesman Ryan Sullivan told the Chronicle that the sheriff's office was responding to complaints of "continuous harassment of residents."

She did not take the post down, and soon had thousands of online supporters. Second Chance Rescue NYC Dogs posted a lengthy, blistering rallying cry on Facebook asking that people call Anderson's office to urge her to press animal cruelty charges against the dog's owner—a post that began, “YES THAT IS A RUBBER BAND AROUND THE MUZZLE. HARRIS COUNTY TEXAS. SHAME ON YOU.”

The DA's office did not press charges—and it did not accept any “electronic harassment” charges against Cammack, who spent 14 hours in jail before the DA's office let her go.

The outrage over "porch pup" shouldn't be surprising: jailing a staunch animal-rights activist for trying to save a dog, while simultaneously refusing to press charges against the owner of said emaciated, diaper- and muzzle-wearing pup, is generally not what most dog-lovers would consider fair and just.

The protesters outside the jail yesterday held signs bearing, “JUSTICE FOR PORCH PUP!” and “SAVE PORCH PUP!” and “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” with a picture of the dog in her diaper.

But by this time, whether or not the protesters knew it, a veterinarian, the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Control, and sheriff's deputies had all visited the dog—SPCA, in fact, examined her twice. All of them came to the same conclusion: There was no evidence of abuse.

“It wasn't what we would consider an ideal situation,” Brian Latham, director of communications at SPCA, told the Houston Press. “We don't believe the dog had optimal care. But the evidence we saw does not meet the burden of proof under state of Texas animal cruelty law.”

That didn't matter to protesters. The pressure was enough to bring Anderson to explain in a press conference why prosecutors could not file charges against the dog's owner. She even brought a picture of her own fluffy dog, Elle.

“The pictures [of June] are bad,” Anderson said in a press conference. “I'm a dog owner, and you will never see Elle, my dog, with a muzzle or stuck on the porch with a diaper. Nobody in the office condones that—nobody thinks that this person was properly caring for this dog. But when we file charges, we file charges when we have probable cause based on evidence. … Because of the findings [from experts], we have no evidence and no probable cause to file charges.”

Anderson said the dog is back with its owner—apparently, the person caring for the dog, the person making decisions about diapers and shoe-string muzzles, was only dog-sitting. A woman who lived with that person at the condo, Karress Buckman, spoke to KPRC and explained that the diaper was on June because she had loose stool, and a neighbor was complaining about the dog urinating and pooping down below onto his balcony. The owner of the dog, Christopher Whittaker, admitted to Fox News that putting a shoe string around the dog's face was wrong.

It might be a little to late for the animal lovers, though, to accept any of these explanations.

They have already organized another march, “PEACE WALK FOR JUNE, THE PORCH PUP,” on November 22.

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