The North Charleston man who taped a dog’s mouth shut laughed about it to the dog’s former owner, according to a court document.
William Leonard Dodson, 41, of Quitman Street in North Charleston was arrested Monday after a dog was found with her muzzle clamped so tightly with electrical tape that her tongue had turned black. Rescuers named the dog Caitlyn, and her story has drawn worldwide attention.
Charleston County Magistrate Priscilla Baldwin set Dodson’s bail at $50,000 Tuesday on an animal cruelty charge. She also said animal control officers would take another dog from Dodson’s house into protective custody. According to jail records, Dodson had not bonded out as of Tuesday afternoon.
At the time of his arrest Monday, Dodson was on probation for a weapons conviction and out of jail on bail on a more recent drug and gun charge.
Dodson was convicted in May 2013 of possession of a firearm by a convicted violent felon, sentenced to six years and put on probation, according to a criminal background check with the State Law Enforcement Division.
Dodson was arrested again this March and charged with possession of cocaine and unlawful carrying of a weapon, according to SLED. He was released from the Charleston County jail on $110,000 bail.
For the charge of ill-treatment of animals, Dodson faces from 180 days to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. The felony penalties are applied by state statute to a person convicted of acts such as torturing or cruelly killing an animal. He mutilated the dog and inflicted “excessive and unnecessary pain and suffering,” according to the arrest affidavit.
According to court records released Tuesday, a woman sold a dog named Diamond to Dodson on May 25 for $20. The next night, Dodson told the woman he had taped the dog’s mouth shut because he was tired of her barking, and the dog got loose from her chain. The woman said Dodson was laughing about it, according to the affidavit. She knew Dodson and identified him from a photo lineup.
The dog was found the following day in the Chicora neighborhood in North Charleston. The staff at the Charleston Animal Society said she was a 15-month-old chocolate Staffordshire bull terrier mix and named her Caitlyn. The shelter offered a $1,000 reward for an arrest and conviction. The Humane Society of the United States put up a $5,000 reward.
Caitlyn lost some of her upper lip and the tip of her tongue but has been recovering, according to Aldwin Roman, the Charleston Animal Society’s anti-cruelty and outreach director. It’s possible she may be able to lap up water without reconstructive surgery, he said.
“I don’t think $50,000 really matched the pain and suffering Caitlyn has had to go through,” Roman said after the bond hearing. “She is healing, but the damage has been done.”
Treatment has included time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, cold laser therapy, minor surgery on her lip, antibiotics and intravenous fluids.
South Carolina has some of the nation’s weakest penalties for animal abuse, according to the animal society. A petition for stronger laws on the change.org site has drawn more 2,800 signatures this week.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.