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Mountville man facing animal cruelty charges following death of pit bull puppy

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MOUNTVILLE, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa.–A Lancaster County man was charged  Wednesday with abusing a pit bull puppy. The puppy, named Hennessey, had to be put down in October, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office.

Mario S. Crawley, 25, of Mountville, is charged with a misdemeanor and a summary count of cruelty to animals.

The charges were filed Wednesday morning at District Judge Miles Bixler’s office in Columbia.

It is alleged that Crawley abused the puppy between August and October, causing injuries including a severed spinal cord, bone fractures, and head bruising.

Doctors, including a doctor who performed a necropsy last month, believed the injuries were sustained in multiple instances of non-accidental abuse. Crawley is expected to be arraigned at a later date.

“I am committed to real reform in the area of animal cruelty,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said Wednesday. “We will zealously prosecute the guilty, but the current law is not well-designed and we need to increase the penalties for the most serious cases. I am working with a number of state representatives for 2017.”

A timeline of notable events in the case:

– On October 8, Crawley took the dog to PETS, a veterinarian clinic in Lancaster city, reporting that the dog had fallen from a deck. Dr. Mark Huber, of PETS, believed that the dog was beyond help and should be euthanized. Crawley took the dog, saying family wanted to say goodbye.

– On October 10, an official at ORCA, John Kondravy, was advised of the dog’s condition, prompting Kondravy to visit Crawley’s home. Crawley told Kondravy he could not find the dog. Kondravy contacted the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office for assistance.

– On October 11, West Hempfield police went to the Crawley home and found the dog in a crate with food and water. Crawley told police he could not afford to have the dog euthanized at PETS, so he made arrangements to have the dog euthanized at the Lancaster County SPCA. That happened on October 11. Also on October 11, Lancaster County Detective Joanne Resh interviewed Dr. Huber, who stated that he received information that the dog was abused, but that he could not testify in court that the injuries were not sustained in a fall.

– On October 13, Detectives Resh and George Bonilla interviewed Crawley and his wife. Crawley reported the dog fell; his wife told detectives she never saw any abuse of the dog.

– On October 20, the dog’s body was sent to a Penn State University lab for a necropsy.

– On November 30, Dr. Jason Brooks completed the necropsy which included tissue tests and other examinations.

– On December 1, Detective Bonilla spoke with Dr. Brooks about the necropsy and his findings. Dr. Brooks believed the dog was abused over a period of time. Dr. Brooks stated that he previously told the Lancaster County SPCA that he suspected abuse, but could not give a final opinion until all tests returned.

– On December 6, Detective Bonilla prepared charges.

– On December 7, charges were filed.

“The presumption of innocence is paramount, and suspicion and emotion without enough evidence to convict must control our actions,” District Attorney Stedman said. “We took a methodical approach to this case and filed charges only after we had the scientific evidence we needed to proceed. Part of that crucial evidence was the fact that there was not one single incident of abuse, which we did not know until a few days ago.”

District Attorney Stedman emphasized that his office’s email tip line, AnimalAbuse@co.lancaster.pa.us , is checked and provided information is vetted.

Additionally, Human Society of the United States is providing training sessions next month for Lancaster County police.

“We have more to do, but I know that things are heading in the right direction for animals in Lancaster County,” Stedman said.