Man had apparently abandoned 19 animals
Officers have made an arrest in a case of multiple counts of animal cruelty in the Bethlehem Community.
On Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at approximately 6:12 p.m., officers with the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office received a call to investigate dogs that had been abandoned. Officers responded to a location on Bolick Lane in Bethlehem, according to Sheriff Chris Bowman.
Upon arrival at the location, officers found a deceased dog that was inside a building with the front door padlocked. The officer could see through the window and located the deceased dog. At that time, Alexander County Animal Control was notified to respond to the scene.
The officer did further investigation and located two dogs in a pop-up camper in small cages. The dogs appeared to be very malnourished, with no water or food located. The power company had turned off power to the building as of March 26, 2017. Bethlehem Volunteer Fire Department was notified to respond to help gain entry to the building that had been padlocked.
After entry was made to the building, officers located five dogs that were extremely malnourished and emaciated with ribs visible. One dog was deceased on the floor of the building. Two more deceased dogs were located in a freezer located in the building.
Sheriff Bowman said the building in which the animals were found was utterly filthy and strewn with animal feces.
A white cockatoo was also located deceased in the freezer. Nine quail were located deceased in a cage outside of the building.
An African Gray bird was located in a cage without food or water, said Bowman.
Detectives from the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office were notified to respond.
Officers were able to contact by phone Matthew Trenton Leeth, age 29 of Denham Springs, Louisiana, who rented the property and had a canine training business there. Mr. Leeth stated that he was in Louisiana at another canine training business that he owned. Officers explained to him that he needed to return back to Alexander County in reference to the animals that were found on the property.
Mr. Leeth arrived at the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, April 6, 2017, at approximately 10:00 a.m.
Leeth was interviewed and charged with 19 counts of Felony Cruelty to Animals and 19 counts of Misdemeanor Abandonment of an Animal. He was arrested and taken to the Alexander County Detention Center, where he was placed under a $200,000 secured bond with a first court appearance date of April 10, 2017, in Alexander County District Court.