“We are confident that the surveillance material confirms that our groomer behaved appropriately towards Curry at all times,” said Animal House.
In the past few weeks, Animal House Boarding and Grooming has been at the forefront of criticism regarding the death of a dog in their care – a 7-year-old border collie mix named Curry, owned by Emilee and Kevin Hanks.
The groomer, who was arrested on animal cruelty charges and released on Thursday, has met with public criticism. Cherry Derr, a longtime Animal House employee, shared her public information on multiple social media sites and received threats.
The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” did not apply to those who had already made up their minds on the case.
Enter Thursday morning.
The announcement by Onslow County District Attorney Ernie Lee was overwhelming to say the least, dropped the charges and did not pursue Derr. According to Lee, video evidence from the day and investigations by the state veterinary laboratory revealed that no animal cruelty practices were in place.
Derr was arrested after the Onslow County Animal Service’s initial investigation revealed video evidence from Animal House and the Animed Veterinary Hospital of Bell Fork’s testimony was sufficient to bring Derr before a judge.
It is believed that Animed was part of lifesaving efforts with Animal House on the day Curry died.
Onslow officials said Animal Service officials were consulted with Animed after being called to the site to investigate. Officials said Animed had alerted officials of potential foul play.
After bringing the state’s findings back to Animed, officials claim the veterinary bureau allegedly misdiagnosed Curry.
A copy of the report has been requested from OCAS and Animed. The Daily News reached out to Animed and questioned the procedure the vet had used to diagnose the cause of curry’s death and whether they would have the option of doing the same test the state laboratory had done.
In an email to The Daily News, Animed referred all inquiries to OCAS and declined to publish the vet’s report as the investigation was still ongoing.
Because of this, OCAS has updated its Guidelines on Charging a Suspect accused of criminal intent in the death of an animal and is awaiting instructions from the prosecutor, among several other actions, before pursuing any possible charges.
Announcement from Thursday: Jacksonville Dog Groomer Has Dismissed Crime Charges; will not be prosecuted for the dog’s recent death
State Laboratory disagreed
DA Lee has tried more than 230 jury trials, including eight homicide cases.
During that time, he said he had successfully prosecuted animal cruelty in the district and high courts involving “puppy factories,” dog fighting and other atrocities.
Cases of cruelty to animals seem very difficult to prove beyond doubt, but the facts of these cases warrant prosecution. In Derr’s case, the facts were clear.
Video footage eventually showed that Derr was doing her job, turning away for a few moments only to return and continue tending to Curry. Lee’s findings said Derr never left Curry unattended.
Suddenly, Curry began showing signs of desperation with Derr and at least four other employees helping with life-saving interventions.
Additionally, the NC Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System (NCVDLS) objected to the Rollins Lab at Raleigh Animed. Curry’s cause of death was found to be due to an ongoing and underlying disease involving the heart, lungs, and brain that would have proven fatal in the long run.
The lab added, “Stress may have made an already sick heart worse.”
OCAS, for its part, held responsibility in the Derr case.
Officials received backlash for Derr’s “early arrest” after Lee’s findings said the footage showed that she had behaved appropriately and professionally during Curry’s care session.
Other citizens are now calling on Animed to do the same.
As for Animal House, management posted a post on Facebook Thursday afternoon reiterating their anticipation for the outcome and continuing to express their condolences to the Hanks family.
“While Curry’s death was immensely tragic, we felt it was important to share these findings with our community, especially given the death threats, verbal abuse, and serious defamatory allegations our employees have received.”
Finally, Animal House thanked the customers who stood by them and their staff.
The Hanks and attorney Devlin Horton declined to comment.
Reporter Trevor Dunnell can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please consider supporting local journalism by signing up for a digital subscription for just $ 1 a month. JDNews.com.subscribenow