Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Woman convicted of animal cruelty after dog found with bound muzzle

LARGO — The lawyer twisted a rubber band around his wrist. His skin turned red and swollen.

He thrust it toward the jury, now grimacing, in Courtroom 18.

"Look at this. And it's only been a couple minutes."

Two years ago an SPCA officer found Sox, a Yorkshire terrier-poodle mix, in the bathroom of Tieesha Cogdell's Clearwater home. The puppy was covered by fleas and feces. A rubber band bound his muzzle closed.

On Wednesday, Pinellas-Pasco Assistant State Attorneys Philip Piazza and Ellen Germuska told a jury that Cogdell, 33, was guilty of animal cruelty, a first-degree misdemeanor.

However, Cogdell's public defender, Vincent Massaro, argued that while she may have been an imperfect pet owner, she is not a criminal.

She didn't beat or starve the puppy, he said. No one really knows who put the rubber band around Sox's muzzle — it could have been the kids, he said.

And when Cogdell discovered it, she was too poor to take Sox to a vet.

"He might not have been ready for the Westminster Dog Show," Massaro argued, but that's not animal cruelty.

After deliberating for 20 minutes, the jurors returned a verdict of guilty. Judge Susan Bedinghaus sentenced Cogdell to 180 days in jail, 12 months of probation, $2,925 in court fees and $2,079 in restitution to the SPCA.

She showed no emotion, but clutched a red, white and blue chew toy.

On Dec. 9, 2011, a volunteer at the Smart Academy in Dunedin, where Cogdell's children attended elementary school, called SPCA officer Jill Purl with a tip.

"The kids had told him, 'Mommy's letting the dog die in the bathroom,' " Purl said.

Two days later, Purl visited Cogdell's house to investigate. She smelled something foul from the driveway — rotting flesh, she later learned. But Purl didn't immediately confiscate Sox. Instead, she gave Cogdell phone numbers for two emergency vets in Largo.

"I wanted to work with the owner before making another shelter puppy," Purl said. "And she swore she'd take him that afternoon."

Cogdell, according to the vets, never sought help.

The next day, Purl returned and Cogdell gave her Sox. Purl called Clearwater police, who arrested Cogdell on an animal cruelty charge.

She didn't testify during her trial, which started Tuesday.

Piazza showed the jury pictures of Sox before an emergency surgery, his muzzle slick with blood and puss.

"That is animal cruelty," he said.

Three veterinarians, a Clearwater police officer and Purl testified Tuesday.

Dr. Rizal Lopez, the SPCA veterinarian who treated Sox for two months, estimated that the rubber band had been around the puppy's muzzle for two weeks, cutting through muscles.

Dr. Amy Engle, one of the Largo vets who removed the deeply embedded elastic, said the odor overpowered her ICU.

After the jury delivered the guilty verdict Wednesday, Cogdell asked to speak.

"I don't think I did anything wrong," she said.

She started rambling: I can learn something from this. I'm not the same person. We loved that dog. We really loved that dog. I got that dog for my son when he earned straight A's. I got that dog after the other Sox died.

Bedinghaus stopped her.

"Are you telling me you had another dog named Sox and replaced that dog with this one?"

The judge ordered that she may never own another dog.

Sox, now about 2 years old, lives with his new family in Largo. In a recent photo Purl brought to the trial, he sports a blue bandana. His ashen brown hair, shiny and long, masks the scars on his muzzle.

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.

Woman convicted of animal cruelty after dog found with bound muzzle 01/23/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. City Council approves $5 million for Clearwater Marine Aquarium expansion

    Briefs

    CLEARWATER — The City Council on Thursday approved contributing $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for its massive expansion project.

    Clearwater has agreed to contributed $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium 
's $66 million expansion project.. [ Clearwater Marine Aquarium] 


  2. Live blog: Some scuffles, shot fired, but otherwise calm after Richard Spencer speech at UF

    College

    GAINESVILLE — A small army of law enforcement officers, many of them from cities and counties around the state, have converged on the University of Florida in preparation for today's speaking appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

    A Richard Spencer supporter is escorted by police along Hull Road outside of the Phillips Center after the white nationalist's speech on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Fla. on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017.
  3. This unidentified man was punched outside of Richard Spencer's speech in Gainesville.
  4. Pentagon faces demands for details on deadly attack in Niger

    Military

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration had no answers Thursday to key questions two weeks after an ambush in the African nation of Niger killed four U.S. soldiers, prompting demands in Congress for details, complaints of Pentagon stonewalling and a comparison to the 2012 Benghazi attack. The White House defended …

    In this image provided by the U.S. Army, a carry team of soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry the transfer case during a casualty return for Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, of Lyons, Ga., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Oct. 5, 2017. U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed on Oct. 4 and Wright and three other soldiers were killed. There were about a dozen U.S. troops and a company of Niger forces, for a total of about 40 service members in the joint mission. [Pfc. Lane Hiser | U.S. Army via AP]
  5. Trigaux: Florida, Tampa Bay lagging in growth of their startups

    Economic Development

    The annual assessment of how entrepreneurs are doing across the country is out from the Kauffman Foundation — among the best watchers of the nation's startup scene. How do Florida and Tampa Bay fare?

    Lured by financial incentives, startup GeniusCentral relocated from Manatee County in 2015 to St. Petersburg, promising to creatye 40 new jobs. It took downtown space in an appropriately creative workpace for entrepreneurs. It did not last there, later moving back to less expensive space in Manatee. A new Kauffman Index report on entrepreneurship found that Florida is a good place to launch startups but a tougher place to grow them.
[SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]