Deputies Find Pitbulls in 'Deplorable Conditions'; Owner Faces Charges

By Jami Brinton, Reporter

Iowa City Animal Control Officer Willa Hamilton of North Liberty plays with Gotti. (Photo by Brian Ray)

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By Becky Ogann

218 Blackfoot Trail

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - An Iowa City man has been charged with animal neglect, after Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies say they found five pitbulls with no food or water inside a trailer with blood, feces and urine.

“I’ve never heard or seen it myself where they were this bad,” said Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek.

Darrell Keith Cathey, 24, of 218 Blackfoot Trail, is in jail on 13 charges, including eight charges of animal neglect, three of which are for serious animal neglect.

Deputies were dispatched to the trailer Monday for a welfare check, after receiving a tip about several dogs living inside that were reported to be left in their kennels for extended periods of time, according to Detective Doug Gwinn.

Cathey told deputies by telephone that he was in Chicago and was on his way back to the trailer.

Officials say they found five pitbulls with no food or water, and that Cathey had made no arrangements for the dogs’ care while he was away.

“I think were some fresh wounds on the animals,” Sheriff Pulkrabek said. “Some blood.”

Johnson County deputies called in Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Services to assist with the five dogs found inside the mobile home.

“I saw two dogs confined in a crate within a front room and another dog that was loose,” said Misha Goodman, director of Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Services. “All of the dogs appeared to have injuries of various types.”

Goodman said those injuries include “lots of puncture wounds, lots of rips and tears, mostly of the head areas.”

“The puncture wounds are from other animals,” Goodman said. “There are rips and tears and punctures that would be generally from other dogs, like biting, ripping, [and] tearing.”

Goodman said a dog could sustain similar injuries by getting his head stuck in a machine, though the puncture wounds on the dogs indicate “teeth wounds.”

The dogs also have a significant amount of scratches and scars all over their bodies.

“Some will need major surgery,” Goodman said. “Some of their wounds will heal through they will continue to have scaring.”

Goodman believes some of the dogs have sustained injuries that they will never fully recover from. One dog, Duce, has swollen paws due to multiple puncture wounds. Goodman fears he may have muscle and tendon damage. Another dog, Duke, had one of his ears severely damaged. Officials say Duke was hospitalized for two days.

Goodman said all of the dogs are receiving antibiotics.

The Sheriff’s Department is investigating this incident, though they are not confirming suspicions of dog fighting.

“If someone came to us and said, ‘Well, I know for a fact the person’s been dog fighting,” then we’d be looking into it,” Sheriff Pulkrabek said. “Right now, it’s just a matter of animal neglect.”

Goodman said Iowa City Animal Services has dealt with another complaint involving Cathey.

“At that time, the complaint was that the owner was breeding dogs and possibly fighting dogs,” she said.

Goodman said their investigation did not find any evidence of dog fighting, but Cathey admitted he was breeding dogs.

Cathey was charged Thursday. He was in the Johnson County Jail Friday morning on a $6,000 cash bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 16 at 2 p.m. at the Johnson County Courthouse.

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