Utilizing a rarely-used North Carolina statute, the organization filed a civil suit to gain custody of the dogs and save them from being chained up 24/7, surrounded by filth and suffering without basic care—a victory that has helped these dogs’ lives completely transform.
When they could, PETA’s fieldworkers visited the chained dogs for more than a year, repeatedly trying to persuade the property owner, Cherelle Turner Askew, to provide for their basic needs. The group provided the dogs with food, custom-built doghouses, spay/neuter services, and more—all free of charge. But when the fieldworkers would return, they would find the dogs malnourished and neglected, and on one visit, they discovered the skeletal remains of a young black pit bull named Minnie—a dog they knew well—still chained inside her doghouse. A necropsy revealed that she had died of “starvation and extreme neglect.”
After months of pleading by PETA, the local sheriff’s office charged Askew with seven counts of cruelty to animals, seized four surviving dogs—Zeus, Duke, Sandy, and Duchess—from her property, and delivered them to the local dog pound. Knowing that they were in urgent need of veterinary care, suffering from heartworm disease and other conditions, but would have stayed at the pound—which has no veterinarian—for months or even years until the case’s conclusion, PETA jumped ahead of the criminal case by filing a lawsuit under a unique state statute that allows any person to file a civil action for custody of abused animals.
In August of this year, PETA was granted permanent custody of the four dogs as well as a fifth dog named Billie, who was acquired after Minnie starved to death and was kept tethered in the same spot—together, the “Bertie 5.” In PETA’s headquarters and in caring foster homes, they’ve been receiving treatment for bronchitis, heartworm disease, parasites, and other ailments—and enjoying long-overdue affection at last, playing with other dogs, relaxing indoors, snuggling in cozy beds, and just being dogs.
Due to the nature of some of the images, photos and more details about these dogs and their astonishing transformations since their rescue can be found here.
Askew’s criminal case was scheduled for October 5—but whatever the outcome, the Bertie 5 will never be chained up and neglected again. Editor’s note: As of this writing, defendant’s case is scheduled for November 2, 2022.