Friday, July 17, 2009

Ex-animal rescuer must face cruelty charge

Prosecutors say a dog in her care for a few months was extremely malnourished.

A former Owasso animal rescue operator must face trial on an animal-cruelty charge, a judge ruled Thursday.

At a preliminary hearing, Penny Joanne Clark was bound over for trial on a felony charge involving a female schnauzer named Gracie.

Prosecutors contend that Gracie was healthy when taken to Clark in April 2007.

The dog was in Clark's care until August 2007, when a veterinarian diagnosed Gracie as extremely malnourished, prosecutors assert..."

June 19, 2009: Animal cruelty case is revived


More than a year after a previous animal-cruelty case was dismissed, Tulsa County prosecutors refiled a scaled-down charge against a former Owasso animal rescue operator.

Penny Joanne Clark, 45, recently was charged with one count of cruelty to an animal — a schnauzer named Gracie.

Clark was booked into the Tulsa Jail on Tuesday and was released later that day on $5,000 bond.

A police affidavit asserts that Gracie was healthy when she was taken to Clark on April 28, 2007, and that the dog was left in her care until Aug. 5, 2007. A veterinarian then diagnosed Gracie as severely malnourished and maintained that the dog had experienced severe hair loss resulting from malnutrition, the affidavit states.

Attorney Keith Ward, representing Clark, said Wednesday that his client did not neglect the dog and did not do what is alleged in the charge. Gracie "was provided an adequate supply of food and water," he said. Ward described Clark as "the biggest animal lover" in Tulsa County.

She no longer runs an animal rescue operation, he said. In February 2008, the District Attorney's Office dismissed for further investigation a seven-count animal cruelty charge that was filed in 2007 against Clark and her husband, Fernon Clark III, records show. At that time, First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond said he expected that the case would be refiled.

Those dismissed counts stemmed from an August 2007 seizure of animals by law enforcement officers from Penny Clark's New Hope Animal Rescue at 13017 E. 105th St. North in Owasso.

Authorities seized more than 60 dogs and cats, and many animals ultimately were euthanized, records show. Ward said in 2008 that none of the animals was "euthanized because of any insufficiency in the care that she gave them."

Gracie, who is still alive, was among the animals seized at that time, Assistant District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said Wednesday. Kunzweiler said the case has been thoroughly reinvestigated and that the result is the filing of one felony count against Penny Clark alone. "There is a lot of evidence that we had to look at," he said. "It was a complicated investigation."

New Hope, which received nonprofit-organization status in March 2006, relied on donations and adoption fees for income, Clark said earlier. The organization received a boost — both monetarily and through publicity — when country music superstar Trisha Yearwood raised about $23,000 for New Hope, Clark said in 2007..." More