Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Thomas Louis Verner, 57 tethering a dog to a tree, causing neck wounds Perkins, OK

Payne County

June 11, 2003  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
Felony misdemeanor possession of marijuana

1 bulldog


Perkins County Court

A Perkins man who is accused of tying two rope around a dog's neck so tightly that it grew into the skin, causing a serious infection, has been jailed on an animal cruelty charge, authorities said.

Thomas Louis Verner , 57, has been unable to post $2,500 bail since his arrest. He remains in custody pending his Aug. 15 preliminary hearing, a Payne County sheriff's spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the bulldog, who has been named Buddy by the staff at the veterinary clinic where he was taken for treatment, is recuperating at the Perkins Animal Shelter.

"We did keep the dog at the vet for about 10 days because of the injuries that needed continuous care," Perkins Police Chief Robert Williams said.

"They had to cut the rope off. It was very infected."  The wound around the dog's neck had drawn maggots.

Buddy, who is a year or two old, is not yet available for adoption, but plenty of people already have said they'd like to take him in, Animal Control Officer Jeff Radford said.

"He's a good-looking dog. If I could adopt him, I would, but I've got an apartment. They won't let me have animals," he said.

The Perkins shelter is a no-kill shelter, meaning no animals are euthanized.  "We just adopt them out," Williams said.

Williams wrote in an affidavit that Perkins police were called June 11 by a woman who said her neighbor's brindle-and-white bulldog had shown up in her front yard.

"She noticed a rope tied around the dog's neck so tight and appeared to have been there for a long time," the affidavit said.

Officer Jeremy Ronspiez saw the dog and talked to the neighbor, identified as Kelly Vierling, who said the dog had been tied to a tree "for the last year" with a rope that was about three feet long.

"When the animal showed up at her house, she gave it several bowls of water and then noticed that it appeared to be bleeding around the neck. It was also un steady on its rear legs. She then called police," the affidavit said.

When Radford saw the dog, he took it to the Perkins Veterinary Clinic for treatment and evaluation.  He was unable to contact Verner, the dog's owner, the affidavit said.

When Radford successfully contacted the dog's owner, Verner reportedly said that "he has been caring for the animal for the past four months and that the animal was getting loose, so he put the rope around the animal to stop this, and he had also put a collar on the animal just a few days ago," the affidavit said.

Verner was subsequently arrested. If he is convicted of animal cruelty, Verner could face a maximum penalty of as much as five years in prison and a $500 fine, according to the felony charge filed by prosecutor Kathy Thomas.

Update 7/15/03:  A dog found with blood and maggots embedded in its neck is in the city’s custody until after a preliminary hearing for the dog’s caretaker, town officials said.

Verner was charged June 30 with one count of animal cruelty to his son’s dog. He is out on $2,500 bail and is scheduled to return Aug. 15 for a preliminary hearing.

Verner is accused of tying a rope around the neck of a bulldog so tightly it caused the skin to break and become infected.

“The rope has been embedded in the dog’s neck for at least three to four months,” Perkins animal control officer Jeff Radford said.

Update 8/16/03:  Verner, who is accused of tying two ropes around a dog’s neck so tightly that they grew into the dog’s skin causing a serious infection, was order to stand trial on an animal cruelty charge.

Update 6/23/04:  Verner was acquitted of animal cruelty by a Payne County jury.

Perkins Police Chief Robert Williams expressed shock at the verdict.  "With the photographs and all the testimony, it was beyond me how a jury could find him not guilty," he said.

Williams said he listened to the testimony from defendant Thomas Louis Verner.

"He admitted he put a ski rope on his (the dog's) neck -- that was one that grew into the neck" of the American bulldog, named Notorious, Williams said.  The dog "had rotting tissue on his neck," which was badly infected and had maggots, Perkins veterinarian Monica Bentley testified at a preliminary hearing in August.

When the dog was rescued in June 2003 after appearing at a neighbor's front door, "he was listless," Williams said. "He was in so much pain with all the infection.

"Now the dog is in excellent health," he said. "He has more energy and vigor than I've ever seen. We may put him on the fire trucks."

For more than a year, the dog has been in the custody of the Perkins animal control office which will assume ownership of the dog because the state has a lien on him for medical expenses and board, prosecutor Tom Lee said. He added that the dog would be put up for adoption.

Update 5/6/10:  Verner, now age 64 has been charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana.


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