A Hardinsburg man has been sentenced to 12 years, with 4 years suspended, on 24 counts of animal neglect, said Washington County Prosecutor Tara Hunt.
Ryan Crum was sentenced June 1 in Washington Circuit Court.
“This was a serious case of animal neglect,” said Prosecutor Hunt. “The many dogs owned by Mr. Crum were horribly neglected and their lives were endangered due to his lack of care.”
Upon his release from prison, Crum will be on probation for four years and will be required to seek mental health services. Crum is also prohibited from possessing or caring for a vertebrate animal.
The incident began July 28, 2021, when the Washington County Animal Control Officer was dispatched to a residence on South Green Mill Road in reference to the smell of something deceased.
When Officer Mike Wimmer asked Crum about the smell, he said it was probably a dead chicken at the neighbor’s. As Officer Wimmer spoke with Crum, his two dozen dogs began to gather around. He noted in his police report that the dogs appeared dangerously underweight and emaciated. There were also dogs on the property which were locked in a semi-trailer with temperatures in the 90’s.
Crum admitted his dogs had been passing blood in their feces and said he couldn’t find anyone to take him and the dogs to the veterinarian.
Officer Wimmer asked Crum several times if he could bring the State Veterinarian to the property to observe the dogs. He finally agreed.
After viewing photos of the dogs, State Veterinarian Dr. Jodi Lovejoy said the dogs appeared to be in significant jeopardy and she was very concerned about the dogs locked in the trailer, as well as a lack of food or water for the dogs, three of which later died as a result of their neglect.
“Animals depend upon humans for their survival,” said Prosecutor Hunt. “When animal owners in Washington County fail to properly care for their animals, we will always take that very seriously.”
Crum was found guilty in a jury trial last August. “This was an unusual trial because the defendant failed to appear and he was tried in abstentia, meaning the trial was held in his absence with his counsel present on his behalf,” said Prosecutor Hunt. “These are instances that you normally learn about in law school. I was extremely impressed with the trial process and ultimate guilty verdict reached at the hands of Deputy Prosecutor Nathan Bills, who was new to our office at time of trial. Bills was able to take a difficult animal neglect case with multiple counts and present the facts in a manner that ensured the jury could make the right decision.” said Hunt.
She would also like to thank Animal Control Officer Wimmer and officers within the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, the staff and volunteers of the Washington County Humane Society and Salem Animal Shelter, along with the expertise of the Board of Animal Health, specifically Dr. Jodi Lovejoy DVM, because without their investigation and efforts a case of this nature could not have a successful outcome.