South Carolina police arrest suspect in animal cruelty case

North Charleston Police on Monday, June 1, 2015 arrested William Leonard Dodson, 41, on animal cruelty charges related to Caitlyn, a dog who was found with her muzzle taped shut. (North Charleston Police Department)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) –  North Charleston Police have made an arrest in the animal cruelty case that has been spread worldwide.

William Leonard Dodson, 41, is being charged with ill treatment of animals and torture. He was found in the area of Quitman Street and Calvert Street. A judge ordered a $50,000 bond against Dodson on Tuesday morning. At the hearing, the judge asked Dodson if he had any other dogs at home and he said that he did. The judge ordered police to head to his home and take the dog away.

The dog, Caitlyn, with the tape removed.
The dog, Caitlyn, with the tape removed.

News 2 spoke with Animal Cruelty Investigator Aldwin Roman who said $50,000 doesn’t do justice to Caitlyn and what she’s been through.

News 2 obtained a copy of Dodson’s arrest record. In 2013, Dodson was arrested for driving without a license and was put on probation for six years for possession of a firearm by a convicted violent felon. In 2014, Dodson was arrested for driving under suspension, driving without a license and for failure to appear in traffic court. In 2015, the suspect was arrested for possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine and the unlawful carrying of a weapon.

Caitlyn the dog was found in critical condition last week on a Good Samaritan’s doorstep with electrical tape tightly wound around her muzzle.

 Dog found with muzzle taped shut. William Leonard Dodson, 41, arrested.

Dog found with muzzle taped shut. William Leonard Dodson, 41, arrested.

The tape was so tight around Caitlyn’s muzzle that her tongue was caught between her teeth, stopping blood flow to her tongue. Officials think that the tape was on Caitlyn for up to 36-48 hours.

The Charleston Animal Society Senior Director of Veterinary Care, Dr. Lucy Fuller, DVM, said “Caitlyn is in a lot of pain, her condition is critical, and her prognosis is guarded.” She also said that “A large part of her tongue may need to be removed surgically if the tissue dies from the lack of blood flow. She may be severely disfigured, or the large amount of dead tissue may cause life-threatening complications.”

The story of Caitlyn, the North Charleston dog who had her muzzle taped shut, is now worldwide.

We talked with one man at the Chinese Deli in the Chicora-Cherokee community. That is where the dog was discovered earlier this week. “You gotta think, what kind of cruel person is gonna take their time to that to a dog?”

“It’s many things that’s not good that comes through my mind when I hear it…it’s cruel. It’s degrading. Wrong. Life threatening. Sick. It’s like, the mere thought of it is, I mean, why?? That’s one question that comes through my mind when I look at it, is why?”

Kelli Klein, the director of emergency care at Veterinary Specialty Care in Mount Pleasant says Caitlyn is doing better. “She’s been doing really, really well since transferring to us last night.”

Caitlyn was placed in a hyperbaric chamber Friday to give her more oxygen, to help her wounds heal faster. “She’s had three full meals. She’s been able to (take in food) and swallow it.”

 @Adoptatcas: Thank you North Charleston Police Department for making such a speedy arrest #Justice4Caitlyn #IamCaitlyn

@Adoptatcas: Thank you North Charleston Police Department for making such a speedy arrest #Justice4Caitlyn #IamCaitlyn

She is scheduled for her first surgery either Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Treatment for Caitlyn will be paid for by Toby’s Fund, Charleston Animal Society’s medical fund that is only made possible by donations from the community.

“This is the most malicious case of animal abuse I have ever seen in my entire career,” said Charleston Animal Society Director of Anti-Cruelty & Outreach Aldwin Roman. He continued, “to leave this dog in pain, unable to eat or drink and to now leave her in the position where her life is at stake because she may lose her tongue is heartbreaking.”

North Charleston Animal Control is investigating the case and looking for whoever is responsible. Charleston Animal Society is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible, and Friday the Humane Society of the United States added another $5,000. If convicted of ill treatment of an animal, the guilty could face up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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