The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

April 1, 2011

More charges filed in abuse case

Several dogs remain in possession of woman accused of animal cruelty

OTTUMWA — An Ottumwa woman charged with animal cruelty is still in possession of several dogs, though authorities hope the animals can be legally seized.

Despite a total of 12 charges against Noelle Stanbridge, police aren’t able to seize her animals, said Ottumwa Police Chief Jim Clark.

Police charged Stanbridge, 41, with animal cruelty Tuesday afternoon after a video of her hitting a dog was turned over to authorities. She was also charged Wednesday with operating as a dealer without a license, seven counts of failure to license a dog and three counts of failure to vaccinate a dog. All of the charges are considered simple misdemeanors.

The video, given to police by a citizen, shows Stanbridge beating a dog with a club, hitting it at least 15 times. It appeared the incident started because the dog was digging in the yard, according to police.

Stanbridge, who considers herself an animal activist, was released from the Wapello County Jail after posting a $325 bond.

When authorities served the first search warrant Tuesday, a local veterinarian was on hand to check all of the animals for injuries, Clark said. The veterinarian determined that there was no imminent danger to the animals, so they were allowed to stay in Stanbridge’s possession. A total of 10 dogs were found on her property.

“It’s not our decision because there’s no imminent danger,” Clark said.

“We took a vet with us, and the vet checked all of the animals. They were not injured and appeared to be healthy, and we cannot just arbitrarily seize someone’s property regardless of how appalling a video may be,” Clark said.

Only a judge can determine whether the animals should be permanently taken from Stanbridge. If a judge decides to seize the dogs, they would be turned over to the city and adopted out, Clark said.

The investigation continues and additional charges are pending, Clark said. A woman from Virginia contacted the Ottumwa police this week reporting that she had paid Stanbridge for an animal and was scheduled to meet in Indiana to pick it up. She claimed Stanbridge didn’t follow through, Clark said.

Stanbridge’s pretrial hearing is set for 8:45 a.m. April 21 at the Wapello County Courthouse. She told the Courier on Thursday she could not discuss the case on the advice of her attorney.

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