Owner, second man charged in pit bull’s death

Published: Monday, February 23, 2015 @ 11:27 PM
Updated: Monday, February 23, 2015 @ 11:27 PM

Kane, a white pit bull, is dead and his owner — who was in jail when his dog died — is being held responsible.

And so is the man the owner had asked to look in on the animal that had been left outside in a cage during a record-setting cold spell.

When Kane was found in the cage last Thursday night (Feb. 19) in the yard of a residence, a necropsy found that the animal was malnourished at roughly 37 pounds — about half its normal weight — and was suffering from severe parasites, Dr. Harold Brown, Greene County’s animal control director, told WHIO-TV on Monday night.

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“And then the third thing is it was very cold that day, so that could lead to hypothermia,” Brown said.

Kane apparently didn’t stand a chance, despite the kindness of strangers who brought blankets heated in their dryers to drape over the cage. They also brought food to the rusted cage.

“I went and purchased hay,” one woman, who asked not to be identified by name, told News Center 7’s Kate Bartley on Monday night. “But by the time I got there, the dog was gone.” The woman said she and her friends had tried to keep the dog warm, and nobody helped.

Weeks ago, county animal control agents told the owner to put up tarp to shelter the dog from the biting wind. According to the National Weather Service, record-setting low temperatures registered in the single digits and wind chills were making it “feel like” well below zero.

The owner, 37-year-old Jason Michael Smith Sr., was in the Greene County Jail. According to online jail records, Smith turned himself in the night of Feb. 16 on a probation violation. Bail is set at $25,085.

He told animal control officials that someone else was supposed to be watching the dog, which was being kept at a house were Steven Gale lives. Brown said both men were responsible for the dog’s health and both will be charged with neglect.

“It had been in a condition where it had taken weeks to get that way,” Brown said of Kane. All three possible causes of Kane’s death were preventable or treatable, Brown said.