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May 25, 2010

Narrow Escape for a Colorado Dog in a "Tomb of Tape"

Model prosecution nailed the abuser in this troubling case

The Humane Society of the United States

  • Rex was nearly dead when police found him. Mark Niedzielski/Boulder Police Dept.

  • Rex barely survived the strangely cruel attack. Mark Niedzielski/Boulder Police Dept.

by Sherry Ramsey

District attorneys often think they have heard it all when it comes to bizarre criminal behavior. But in Colorado, Deputy District Attorney Lisa Pearson recently encountered a case of animal cruelty that was disturbing even to a D.A.

The defendant, University of Colorado student Abby Toll, had been fighting with her boyfriend about his eight-month-old Shiba Inu puppy, Rex. She wanted her boyfriend to get rid of Rex.

On the night of the incident, Toll and her boyfriend came home to discover that Rex had escaped his kennel and soiled their apartment.

While the boyfriend was in the bedroom, Toll put black hair ties on each of Rex's paws so tightly that they left indentations in the skin and caused his paws to swell.

Unable to breathe or move

Toll then bound Rex's paws together, bound his muzzle closed, bound his ears together, and attached his muzzle to his collar so his head was forcibly bent down. She put a plastic bag over his mouth, taped his mouth closed with packing tape, and taped his tail to his hind leg.

Then, after wrapping him in packing tape from head to tail, Toll taped Rex to the side of the refrigerator with his legs pointed toward the ceiling.

When the boyfriend came out of his bedroom and saw Rex, the couple started arguing again. Fortunately, one of the neighbors heard the yelling and contacted the police.

When the police arrived, Rex was very lethargic. If they had not arrived when they did he would likely have suffocated. After the officers freed him from the "tomb of tape," as one officer called it, Rex lay motionless.

Toll told the police she did it to get back at her boyfriend and to teach Rex a lesson. She was charged with aggravated animal cruelty, a Class 6 felony.

D.A. Pearson, along with D.A. David Cheval, presented the case to a jury, and both officers who rescued Rex at the scene testified. The jury convicted Toll in two hours; sentencing is pending.

Admirably prosecuted

Rex is now with a loving new family. The HSUS offers congratulations to both D.A.s for their hard work and dedication to justice for Rex.

Further congratulations are due the Boulder County District Attorney's Office for releasing model new directives on handling animal abuse cases which stress the importance of taking these cases seriously. In her successful prosecution of Rex's abuser, D.A. Pearson proved that the directives are working.

Sherry Ramsey is manager of animal cruelty prosecutions for The Humane Society of the United States.

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