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Man Charged with K-9 Abuse

Posted on Aug 22, 2008 - 3:42 PM
Rutland Herald
Article published Aug 16, 2008
Man charged with K-9 abuse
By Dawson Raspuzzi Herald Staff

A man who police said antagonized a Rutland City police dog faces a charge of cruelty to a police service animal for allegedly "yelling, growling, snarling and barking" at King Luther.

James Tibbitts, 41, was taken into custody for impeding a police officer after allegedly lying to police officers who responded to a report of a suicidal female at his Summer Street apartment early Friday, police said.

Tibbitts' antagonizing caused King Luther to "bark incessantly, scratch at the transport cage and bang his snout and teeth off the cage" that separated the dog in the back seat from Tibbitts in the front passenger seat.

King Luther's reaction, which continued for most of the five-minute ride from Summer Street to the police station on Wales Street, caused the 3-year-old German shepherd injuries requiring treatment at a veterinary hospital.

Officer Frank Post said King Luther was treated for strained ligaments in his right hind quarter, a cut on his nose, two broken nails on his front right paw and for metal shards in his gums from biting at the cage.

The incident happened after Post responded to the apartment as a backup officer for a report that a woman, later identified as Valerie Sullivan, was at the residence and was suicidal.

When police arrived, Tibbitts opened the door and told them Sullivan was not there and she was out of town, Post said.

Tibbitts also stated his hatred for police, according to the affidavit. "I just did 10 years, so I hate you guys," he allegedly said.

Tibbitts would not allow police inside the apartment until they received authorization from the Department of Corrections, which police did shortly after arriving.

Once they entered the apartment, police found Sullivan inside and found she was wanted on two separate warrants for simple assault and driving with a suspended license. She was also a suspect for stealing a vehicle, Post said.

Police said the vehicle in question, a Toyota 4Runner, was later found within a block of the residence.

Police arrested Sullivan on the warrants and took her to the Rutland jail where she's being held on bail until her scheduled arraignment on charges of assault, driving with a suspended license and operating a vehicle without the owner's consent, Post said.

Because Tibbitts allegedly lied to police and knowingly harbored a wanted person, he was charged with impeding a police officer, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $500 fine, Post said.

Police first put Tibbitts in the police Chevrolet Tahoe to take him to the police station but he kept undoing his seat belt and "thrashing around," police said, so he was transferred to Post's cruiser.

Post said once Tibbitts was placed in his vehicle he tried to kick the laptop computer in the vehicle and he had to be restrained against the passenger seat with a pressure point hold until he calmed down.

Tibbitts then began antagonizing King Luther and continued to do so for the remainder of the ride to the police station, Post said.

The misdemeanor charge of cruelty to a police service animal carries a maximum sentence of one year behind bars and a $2,000 fine.

King Luther was at work for his Friday shift after spending two hours at the vet for treatment earlier in the day. Post said the German shepherd is on "light duty" until Monday and will only be used if there is a critical situation, a decision that is Post's to make.

Post said he only knows of one instance in Vermont when another person faced the cruelty charge a couple of years ago a person antagonized Vermont State Police K-9 Max, the former police dog of Sgt. Todd Protzman.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at dawson.raspuzzi@rutlandherald.com.


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