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Dog Handler CHARGED
Mary Wild slept in air-conditioned comfort as temperatures in her closed van soared to over 120 degrees, causing the excruciating death of 7 helpless show dogs crated inside.
TheDogPress.com| July 24, 2009
Barbara J. Andrews, Editor-In-Chief
Mary Wild stopped to party after the show, leaving her van parked so it was exposed to the morning sun. The 24 year old Missouri dog handler faces up to 8 years in prison. Facts of the case, charges, AKC's statement, interview with the Jefferson County Prosecutor, conviction and sentencing updates are compiled in one of the most talked-about handler cruelty cases in recent years.
This editor's personal experience when professional handler Carlos Rojas’s generator failed (or was shut off) compelled us to follow the Mary Wild case. It was believed that a certain handler flipped the external generator switch on Carlos' van. It was the end of a successful career and the personal destruction of a man loved by many and respected by all.
The vivid images of those dogs and how much they suffered as Sally Jo, Fran Keyes and I cleaned Carlos's rig will never be erased from my memory. It is painful even now but staff and friends have convinced me that we must cover this story as a warning to everyone in the sport.
Skip to Mary Wild Sentenced Today (below) or continue to get the background before you mull over the sentence handed down.
The Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's office employs 15 Assistant Prosecutors and has a support staff of 30. The Prosecuting Attorney is Forrest K. Wegge. Mr. Wegge handles only those crimes that violate State law, not local ordinances. His office has exclusive jurisdiction over all felony crimes committed in Jefferson County.
Mr. Wegge was professional and thorough, as might be expected but he clearly understands the concerns dog people have over this case. He said his office has been “deluged with email, many of them with questions that can not yet be answered.”
Asked whether the bond was $2500 as we were told, and if so, had Mary posted bond and been released, he replied “Yes to both questions. Arraignment is August 12th.”
I explained that there is rampant speculation as to how seriously this case will be regarded. Without hesitation, Mr. Wegge said “She has been charged with eight individual counts of animal abuse. Each is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.”
Mr. Wegge, our readers fear that your office may not seek maximum sentencing because Missouri is known as a “puppy mill state.” Could you respond to that?
“Yes. After reviewing evidence appropriate to the case, we filed 8 separate counts of animal abuse. She hasn’t entered a plea yet. She will do so August 12th. The case could be decided by a judge or by jury trial but the judge will impose sentence based on the evidence.”
Could this have been a felony count in Missouri?
“We have two state statutes to deal with. Neglect is a Class B misdemeanor for the first conviction. Neglect carries up to 6 months and/or a $500 fine. Animal abuse is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year and a $1,000 fine. Felony charges could apply if this were a second Abuse Offense or if there was evidence of deliberate torture and an elevated Class D felony conviction carries up to 4 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.”
You mentioned a flood of emails. Have you to talked to dog experts or professional handlers to obtain evidence?
“The law is specific as to what can and cannot be presented in a criminal case as compared to Civil law. We have to prove specific evidence to support the charges and it is a high burden of proof; therefore only directly related evidence can be considered. That does not include opinion on whether a defendant is a “good” or “bad” person as might be heard in civil court.”
We thank Jefferson County Prosecutor Forrest Wegge for responding to our questions. For those with concerns about Missouri, his office is taking the Mary Wild case very seriously. The evidence was compelling, thus the 8 individual charges. As Mr. Wegge pointed out, it is the judge who will impose sentence.
Wild was charged with knowingly failing to provide adequate care for a top winning Akita bitch, a Dalmatian believed to belong to her assistant, three Golden Retrievers, two Siberian Huskies, and one Malamute. The Malamute may have belonged to Mary's mother or been one of her breeding. There were witnesses listed but we are withholding their names.
We would like to thank the Detective Division for providing Mary Wild's booking photo. Capt. Brown has ten working police dogs under his command. Each dog lives with his handler and wears a bullet-proof vest with a badge when on duty.
AKC Refuses Comment on Mary Wild Case/Suspension
The evidence is clear, no question as to responsibility and neglect, so we sought to confirm whether or not Mary Wild is suspended pending outcome of the case. We reached Jack Norton, Director Of Compliance for the American Kennel Club but he said we would need to contact their Communications Department for press releases. I explained that we didn't need a press release, it was one answer to a policy question and he is after all, the Director. He was most congenial but again referred me to Communications.
I left two messages for Daisy Okas and an hour later, she called back to inform my secretary that she had just emailed me the press release. Ms. Okas assured us that her press release dealt specifically with my question. Click to read ii for American Kennel Club Press Release. We assume the release was hastily prepared in response to my phone call because we could find no press release on the AKC website, and specifically, nothing in the press section.
As you will learn "put on referral" does not mean Mary Wild was suspended or in any way prevented from handling or putting other dogs at risk.
09|02|09 Mary Wild’s lawyer has requested a trial by jury as well as a change of venue. The change of venue hearing is to be held Sept 15 at 11AM but it is not clear if that supersedes her 9AM hearing on that date. She’ll get the jury trial, but may not get the change of venue. If they had waived the jury trial, Wild would have been subject to the letter of the law, 1 year+$1000 fine on each count, at the judge's discretion if he finds her guilty.
09|30|09 Mary Wild received a continuance until October 13th in criminal court. The request for change of venue was dropped but she will be tried by jury on 8 counts of animal abuse and even though the local publicity has died down, our guess is that Forrest Wegge, Jefferson County’s Prosecuting Attorney, will make sure jury members fully recall the horror Wild created.
11|02|09 Mary Wild received yet another continuance until November 24th. One reader sums it up "given the proximity to Thanksgiving her case could be rescheduled further out – this could go beyond December. What a disappointment – the longer this drags out, the less likely that she will be punished as she deserves.
A dog-attorney with whom we consulted observed that may be precisely what her attorney's are working to achieve. By winter time, jurists will not be as conscious of the extreme heat in which the dogs suffered prior to an excruciating death. Smart move for her legal team and as our attorney pointed out, the longer a case drags out, the less important it becomes on a local level.
In the meantime, Mary Wild's sister is showing dogs down south. Her mother is a strong figure in dogs and of course, working to defend her daughter.
The story is NOT being followed by Missouri news media and efforts to petition the newspaper with Letters To The Editor have been blocked.
When I spoke with Carolyn Marty of the Post Dispatch, she was curt but definitive "No, we are not covering that story at all." As a reporter, I find it inconceivable that a major, local, human interest story isn't being followed. Perhaps she just doesn't like dogs, perhaps she has been persuaded by Mary Wild's defense council, or does she suggest that people in Missouri (a puppy-mill state) are immune to stories of dog abuse?
11|24|09 The Mary Wild Hearing scheduled for Nov 24th was cancelled. A Jury trial was re-scheduled for June 3, 2010 with a pre-trial conference to be held May 24, 2010.
We are told the Malamute Club forbid any mention of her name on the breed list, one report says not only has the club not expelled her but some people seem to be covering up for her, using ii AKC's Club Suspension Policy as an excuse.
12|01|09 Mary Wild was rumored to be entered in Illinois shows. The rumor was true.
Get more information and dig for gold below. Mary Wild Coverage in chronological order.
Dog Handler Charged - Mary Wild slept in comfort, 7 dogs died in her van.
Mary Wild Kills 8 Dogs - charged with 8 felony counts of Animal Abuse
Wild's Trial Begins facing the judge and up to 8 yrs prison.
Interview with Monica Colvin, her top winning Akita among dogs that died.
AKC Refuses to Suspend or comment on convicted handler Mary Wild
Mary Wild's Probation Revoked TheDogPress will continue to provide the net’s most complete coverage on the Mary Wild case.