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Man charged with animal cruelty says he did nothing wrong

6:10 PM, Aug 22, 2013   |    comments
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Thomas J. Leach

(WBIR-Sevierville, Tn) A Sevier County man is facing charges after two dead dogs were found at his home, along with 10 other dogs who were not being cared for properly.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff's Office, a driver passing by noticed a dog who appeared sick tied to a pole on the side of the road near a home on Windfall Estates Drive. 

"He tried to gvie the dog a little water and the dog died while he was there.  It was still alive while he first got there," said Sevier County Animal Control Corporal Phillip King.

When officers checked it out on Tuesday, they found another dog dead in a kennel.  A necropsy will be performed to determine how and when the animals died.

Officers then discovered the ten other dogs.  King said the dogs' conditions were varied, but none of them had shelter or water.

They were confiscated and taken to the Sevier County Humane Society Shelter to be evaluated and cared for.

The shelter closed to the public Tuesday and Wednesday because the dogs are infested with deer ticks and they need to be quarantined.  Shelter workers are treating the dogs.  Some are being transported to local vets for further treatment.  The shelter will reopen Friday.

Thomas J. Leach is charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty and  was booked into the Sevier County Jail under a $5000 bond.  His wife, Lea Leach was cited into court on the same charges.

Leach was out of jail Thursday.  He said he did not believe the charges were warranted.  He said the dogs did not have shelter because they just moved into an old cabin rental office a week ago.

"We didn't bring dog houses but at nighttime we brought our dogs into the house. And they was in the house during the day unless we went somewhere and we put them on chains until we got back, which was never more than a couple hours," Leach said.

Leach also said he had water available and left food on the ground, not in a bowl.  He explained that he rescued the two dogs that died and had only had them for twelve hours. He believes they were sick.

Corporal King said it is against the law not to have shelter for animals and he did not feel the conditions were safe for the dogs.

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