AUBURN — A Willow Street man who left a starving dog in a closet for a month was sentenced Thursday to serve six months in jail.
Charles Palmer, 31, pleaded guilty in Androscoggin County Superior Court to a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals. A judge sentenced him to three years in prison with all but six months suspended. Once he is released, he is expected to be on probation for two years.
He also is barred from owning a domesticated animal. He was ordered to pay a $500 fine.
An animal control officer was sent in June to Palmer's home to investigate a complaint of improper care of an animal. One of Palmer's neighbors had taken the dog, a Labrador-pit bull mix, from him. The 6-month-old dog was emaciated, wrapped in a towel. It should have weighed roughly 40 pounds, but it weighed only 15 pounds.
A veterinarian said the dog was severely dehydrated and was riddled with sores. A test for a virus that causes dehydration came back negative, Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Worden told the judge Thursday.
The dog's kidneys had failed. It had to be euthanized.
Had the case gone to trial, a neighbor would have testified that she had offered repeatedly to help feed the dog, having argued with Palmer that the dog was underweight, Worden said.
Palmer also was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison with all but six months suspended plus two years probation on an unrelated charge of felony burglary in connection with a break-in at 62 Newbury St. That sentence is to be served at the same time as the cruelty sentence. Also to be served concurrently are two misdemeanor charges related to the burglary, each carrying sentences of 30 days in jail.
While on probation, Palmer is prohibited from having or using alcohol or illegal drugs and will be subject to random search and testing. He also was ordered to undergo substance abuse counseling.