Woman at center of animal cruelty case speaks out

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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- An Aiken, South Carolina woman at the center of an animal cruelty case involving a puppy left outside to freeze to death is speaking out about the case and her accounts of the past week.

Robyn Bacon appeared in court Tuesday and was granted a $5,000 bond before being released from jail. She spoke with Gray affiliate WRDW/WAGT to give her side of the story that's making the rounds on social media and across the area.

She had a lot to say about her side of the story, one she feels has not been shown yet since she was first charged with cruelty to animals last week. It all started after Aiken Department of Public Safety officers found a dog chained up in her yard in below-freezing temperatures and a puppy was found frozen to death in a cage.

WRDW/WAGT talked with her outside her Aiken home about how everything unfolded and how she says everything has been blown out of proportion.

"I feel like I was treated like I was an animal," says Robyn Bacon, "like I have really mistreated these dogs when in my heart what I felt was I was doing the best thing I could do for them, trying to help them out."

Just hours after being released from jail, Bacon says this week has been hard for her and her family since being cited for animal cruelty charges last week. She says the entire incident started at the home just across the street after the owners moved away weeks ago and left two dogs abandoned to starve with no food or shelter.

"The puppy almost got hit by a car one day," Bacon says, "and that's when my son said, 'Mama, can we put him inside the fence?" I had a dog previously that belong to my son, so we already had a dog house back there, we already had a puppy cage and everything."

So she brought them in and had them for at least a week, but says something was not right from the get-go. She says she did not actually own the dogs but had kept them out of the cold.

"Both dogs were already sick," Bacon says. "One of my older sons had already bought a parvo shot thinking it would help the puppy. We could not get the puppy to eat anything."

She says they kept the dogs outside on a chain and inside this crate with a blanket over it because she and her fiance were afraid they'd get her two youngest sons sick. Her landlord doesn't allow dogs inside the home at any time.

Bacon says she's faced criticism for not taking them to Aiken County Animal Control for treatment, but she was afraid they'd be abused for being a certain breed.

"By looking at them, you could tell that they were pit bulls and I have heard horrible stories about how pit bulls were treated," Bacon says. "So that was the furthest thing from my mind. I was trying to help them and I thought that by keeping them, I could feed them, I could take care of them."

She says the puppy died last Monday night from its illness, not from the cold, and that her fiance was actually planning on buying a shovel to bury the dog the following day. But the ordeal took another turn the next day when Aiken DPS officers came by for a wellness check.

Bacon says she called Aiken DPS Tuesday morning because she saw a homeless man walking around the neighborhood before she went to work, which worried her for the safety of her children. She says that lead officers to come to her home for a wellness check when they found the dogs behind her home in the cold.

She says she only meant well by taking car of the two dogs instead of leaving them to die in the street.

"I'm not that type of person," Bacon says. "Anyone that knows me knows I am not that type of person. I have children, I have had animals before, I'm active in my church. I'm not that type of person."

But now says she's had death threats to herself and her family, after thinking she did the right thing for the two dogs.

"I just want them to stop," Bacon says. "And again, if you don't know the whole story, then please just leave it alone."

She's faced animal charges before back in September. Bacon says the malicious injury to property or animals was from a domestic incident in which she and her fiance got into an argument and she tore a $3 screen on her front door, not for injuring any animal.

Finding the right agency to come out and check on an animal near you can be tricky.

"We always want somebody responding to animal calls, so regardless when you call or who calls we're going to have someone from public safety respond,” Aiken Department of Public Safety, Lt. Karl Odenthal.
You live in the city of Aiken, the agency to call is the Aiken Department of Public Safety.

They have their own animal control officers.

"Generally our animal control officer’s work a certain time of the day, but any officer is equipped to be able to handle any call of animal nature.”
Which is why even if you call after regular business hours Aiken public safety says they can still help you.

“Generally what will happen, if the officer is unsure of that specific section of animal law, they would contact the animal control officer and he could give them some advice over the phone or actually come out and respond depending on the nature of the call."

In Aiken County, the sheriff's office says you need to call animal services for help.

Which is similar to Augusta’s policy for animal control.

"They should call us, that's what we're here for so if you certainly see something that you don't think is right you should call us first," Operations manager for the City of Augusta Animal Services, Priscilla Crisler said.

If you need help after hours you call the same place.

"They would still call here, they'll get a message on who to contact after hours and we go out based on emergency situations after hours."

There are very few times the Richmond County sheriff's office gets involved.

“Our officers are able to write citations and so it would just for cruelty and things like that, so it would have to be an extreme situation to involve the sheriff's department."

The city of Augusta animal service says that because animals are considered property in the state of Georgia a dog or any animal has to be in imminent danger or facing a life-threatening situation for them to take the dog the first time they go to the home.

Officials say they normally educate people on the issue first and give them a chance to fix it.

Read the original version of this article at wrdw.com.