Case Details

Dog doused in gasoline, set on fire
Rancho Cucamonga, CA (US)

Date: Mar 23, 2006
Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Micah L. Fennell

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

Case ID: 7882
Classification: Burning - Fire or Fireworks
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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A man faces felony criminal charges for allegedly dousing his uncle's female collie with gasoline and setting it on fire during a family argument, officials said.

Micah Fennell, 27, was charged on March 29 with arson and animal cruelty in connection with the March 23 incident, prosecutors said.

"The majority of the dog's fur was burned, and she suffered burns over most of her body, from her neck to her tail," Deputy District Attorney Deborah Ploghaus said.

Deputies who responded to a 911 call from Fennell's home found clumps of burned hair inside and outside the house, according to reports. They eventually found the dog upstairs.

She survived despite suffering widespread second-degree burns.

He told authorities the dog was injured when it ran through a fire he was lighting in his garage, according to reports of the incident.

Fennell is to be arraigned on the felony charges May 4 in West Valley Superior Court.

Case Updates

A badly burned dog was back in the custody of animal control officers on April 3, 2006 after a national animal rights group bombarded county officials with complaints for returning it to the home where it allegedly was abused. Authorities say the collie was doused with gasoline and set on fire last month by its owner's 27-year-old son during a family argument. It was returned to the owner afterward.

San Bernardino County animal control officers took the dog back on March 31, 2006, just hours after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals posted an alert on its Web site urging supporters to besiege the county with complaints about the dog's safety. "We were going to make quite a stink," said PETA caseworker Martin Mersereau. "We were gearing-up for war here. Happily we didn't have to wage it."

San Bernardino County prosecutors filed arson and animal cruelty charges last week against Micah Fennell, of Rancho Cucamonga. They say Fennell lit the dog on fire with a butane lighter on March 23, 2006, causing it to suffer second-degree burns across much of its body. The dog, named Brown, belonged to Fennell's father. Fennell is to be arraigned on the charges May 4, 2006.

News reports of the charges made their way to PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Va. PETA inquired about the incident and learned the dog had been returned to its owner. The organization, fearing that the alleged abuser would have access to the animal, posted an "Action Alert" on its Web site urging its supporters to send complaints to Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino County officials.
The complaints began to pour in immediately. County supervisors received hundreds of phone calls, faxes and e-mails, some from as far away as Italy and Ireland. Rancho Cucamonga City Hall received more than 500 complaints. County Public Health Director James Felten, who supervises the county's animal care program, was among the recipients. He said they prompted him to immediately look into the matter. "I called PETA and thanked them for bringing this to my attention," he said.

Felten said Brown was initially returned home because its owner was genuinely distraught over what happened between the dog and his son. The owner had been providing proper veterinary treatment, he said. However, during a follow-up investigation on March 31, 2006, animal control officials determined it would be in the dog's best interest to remain in full-time veterinary care, Felten said.

The owner voluntarily released the dog to animal control officials pending the outcome of the criminal case against his son, Felten said. "We all felt, for now, we better see how things work out before we let the dog back into the home," he said. The dog is being treated an animal hospital in Montclair.
Source: Daily Bulletin - April 5, 2006
Update posted on Apr 4, 2006 - 9:44PM 
A letter was by the Program Manager of San Bernardino County Animal Care & Control Division in response to the flood of letters received on behalf of the victim in this case:

March 31, 2006

To All Interested Parties,

This letter is written in response to a recent “Animal Action Alert” that was posted on the website of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control Division filed a criminal complaint against Micah Fennell, 27, of Rancho Cucamonga, California. Mr. Fennell was arrested on March 23rd and subsequently released on $50,000.00 bail pending arraignment on two felony criminal charges.

The owner of the dog named “Brown”, who was the victim of the above crimes, was actually Fennell’s father Mr. Billie Fennell. Mr. Billie Fennell was devastated over the actions his son Micah had taken toward the beloved family pet. Mr. B. Fennell ensured Animal Care and Control Officials that “Brown” would receive appropriate and timely veterinary care and as of today was transporting “Brown” twice a day to the veterinarian’s office to receive the necessary treatments for the injuries sustained.

Because of the commitment and assurance of Mr. B. Fennell to provide for his pet’s care, Animal Health Investigator, Doug Smith decided it was appropriate for “Brown” to be returned to Mr. B. Fennell as the rightful owner. Again, as of today Brown has received appropriate veterinary care and treatment for her injuries.

Upon a follow-up investigation today, and after consulting with the treating veterinarians, it was determined that it would be in “Brown’s” best interest to remain in onsite hospitalized care at the VCA Central Animal Hospital in Monclair, California. The veterinarians at VCA Central have agreed to hospitalize “Brown” until final disposition of this criminal complaint. Mr. B. Fennell has voluntarily released Brown to The San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control Division pending the final disposition of criminal matter.

The dog named Brown will remain at the veterinarian’s office and in the legal custody of San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control until final disposition.


Brian M. Cronin
Program Manager
San Bernardino County
Department of Public Health
Animal Care & Control Division
Update posted on Apr 3, 2006 - 6:28AM 


10 News - March 30, 2006
Monterey County Herald - March 31, 2006
LA Daily News - March 30, 2006

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