James M. Leppek

dog dragged behind vehicle

Bad Axe, MI

July 31, 2006

A 46-year old Bad Axe, Michigan man (name not disclosed), allegedly tied a 20-foot rope from the trailer-hitch of his vehicle to the collar on a stray dog, dragging the dog down McKenzie Road on Monday, July 31st.  The male yellow Labrador, which is still a puppy, had reportedly received treatment from Veterinarian Rhoda Short and was recovering on Wednesday at the Bad Axe Animal Medical Clinic.

Huron County Sheriff’s Deputy Duane Miller investigated the complaint after a neighbor of the man witnessed the alleged events and called police.  The neighbor observed a gray GMC Jimmy come down McKenzie Road dragging the dog on a rope behind the vehicle. The driver then stopped the vehicle at Barrie Road, released the dog and sped off.

Huron County Prosecutor Mark J. Gaertner stated that after looking at the totality of what was done to the dog – the cruelty of dragging the animal - he felt those actions called for a much more severe charge than the misdemeanor charge of cruelty to an animal. Gaertner has authorized a felony charge of killing/torturing an animal, which carries a possible penalty of up to four years in prison.

After being in contact with the Sheriff’s office, Gaertner believes the man will be picked up and brought in to be arraigned on the charge, sometime today – August 2nd.

Dr. Short reported to the police that the dog is expected to make a full recovery. 

Attempts to find the dog’s owner have been unsuccessful.  The dog can be adopted from the Thumb Animal Shelter.

Update 8/5/06:

The man who dragged the dog behind his vehicle as been identified as James M. Leppek.  He was arraigned today and charged with a felony charge for allegedly dragging a yellow Lab pup named Chopper behind his vehicle.  Leppek's next court date at the Huron Country District Court is August 24, 2006.

Update 9/12/06:

Leppek will be going to trial as Judge Karl E. Kraus found sufficient evidence to bind him over to circuit court on a felony charge of willfull intent to torture a dog.

The dogs owner testified she had tied the dog up at about 1pm on 7/31/06 and when she returned at 9pm the dog was missing.

Leppek is free on bond after posting 10% of the $4,000 bond.  A jury trial is set for 12/12/06.

Update 12/5/06:

Huron County Circuit Court Judge M. Richard Knoblock dismissed the felony charge of animal torture against Leppek.  Knoblock state the felony charge is for someone who killed, tortured, mutilated, maimed or disfigured an animal.  He felt the charge should have been stated as a misdemeanor and therefore dismissed.

Prosecutor Gaertner said he was now left with two options, to recharge Leppek for felony or a lesser misdemeanor charge.


The Huron Daily Tribune