OTTUMWA — A plea bargain has ended the case that began with four dogs locked in a hot car.
Craig Eugene pleaded guilty to three counts of confining animals, and saw a fourth dismissed as part of the agreement. He had been charged with animal cruelty.
Eugene was a handler at a dog show in Ottumwa last summer, when he put four dogs in his car. They were later discovered in the vehicle, which was not running. Three died. Court documents blamed the deaths on a mechanical failure which cut off the air conditioning in the vehicle.
The city’s ordinance on confining animals requires that dogs be provided shelter that protects against “temperature extremes or precipitation,” and prohibits shelters that lack adequate ventilation. Eugene was fined $100 for each violation.
Eugene’s attorney had challenged the city’s animal cruelty ordinance as being overly vague. It prohibits placing animals in a situation where they could come to harm. The plea bargain means that assertion will not be tested in court.
The American Kennel Club suspended Eugene’s use of its services after the deaths. It was not immediately clear whether the plea bargain would change his status with the organization.
In other area cases:
• Venhure Tsegay has pleaded not guilty to charges of burglary, robbery and assault while participating in a felony. The last charge is a new one filed by prosecutors, while the first two were previously filed.
• Krystynah Hanson had a charge of possession of marijuana filed to replace a count of prohibited acts. She also faces charges of trafficking in stolen weapons and carrying weapons.
• Barbra Stone pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, while other drug and weapons charges were dismissed. She received a five-year suspended prison sentence and five years’ probation.