Public outrage remained strong Tuesday after a Florida woman posted a Facebook photo with her dog’s mouth taped shut, even though she has been charged with animal cruelty. Animal activists are asking authorities to confiscate her two dogs.
Katharine F. Lemansky, 45, whose Facebook page lists her name as Katie Brown, was cited Monday by Cary Police at a Cary residence she has been visiting. The class 1 misdemeanor carries a fine and up to 150 days in jail if found guilty, according to a Town of Cary news release.
Cary police said Monday Lemansky would be allowed to keep Brown, a chocolate lab-mix whose duct-taped mouth prompted investigations by police departments in Cary, Florida and Connecticut, as well as her other dog.
Animal control officers examined Brown and didn’t detect any hair loss from where the tape had been, Cary Police Capt. Randall Rhyne said Monday. He said the dogs were found to be well cared for, which is why they could not be taken from Lemansky.
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On Tuesday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman to request that Lemansky’s two dogs, including Brown, be confiscated for their own safety. If Lemansky is found guilty after appearing in Wake County court Dec. 14, the group asked that she be required to participate in anger management classes and be prohibited from owning animals for as long as possible.
“Certainly, this is bullying at its worst, and people are outraged about it,” said Kristin DeJournett, a PETA cruelty casework associate manager.
DeJournett said North Carolina law allows a judge to file an injunction if he or she feels the animal needs protection. This would allow authorities to remove the animal from the owner.
Freeman could not be reached for comment.
The controversy started Nov. 27, when Lemansky posted a photo of her dog with a caption that read, “This is what happens when you dont shut up!!!” After comments started coming in, Lemansky posted another comment within minutes that read, “Don’t panic everyone it was only for a minute but hasnt barked since... POINT MADE!!!”
The photo, which has since been removed, went viral, and Facebook users contacted police in South Daytona, Fla., and Avon, Conn., two locations on where Lemansky was thought to live. The police departments reported they were overwhelmed with calls from people concerned for Brown’s well-being.
Police in South Daytona said Lemansky’s family members confirmed she had not lived there for about one and a half years, according to Cary Police.
Eventually, South Daytona law enforcement contacted Cary police to assist in the investigation after learning Lemansky was in North Carolina.
She was cited about 4:30 p.m. Monday at a house on Churchview Street in Cary, where Rhyne said she was visiting friends. He said she gave police a South Daytona address as her residence.
The Cary Police Department’s work has been praised by some on social media but also has been deemed a “slap on the wrist” by others because Lemansky is allowed to keep her dogs.
“She should not be allowed to have any animals,” one woman wrote on the Town of Cary’s Facebook page. “She obviously can’t make good or safe decisions concerning them. Next time, they could end up seriously hurt or dead, and it will be on you. Step up Cary, and get these animals out of there.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon