Florence man faces animal cruelty charges

Florence, SC - By Alisha Laventure - bio | email

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – A Florence man faces charges of animal cruelty after police found a dead dog in his back yard in over 100-degree temperatures.

Charles Leverne Bell awaits a court hearing after Florence city police and the Florence city Animal Control unit found a dead black female bulldog in a small transport cage in direct sunlight with no water. An external thermometer found on the ground near the cage showed the temperature to be above 100 degrees.

Bell told Animal Control the dog did not belong to him. He said his 15-year-old son was caring for the dog and had given it water the morning before it died.

A Florence City Animal Control officer arrived at Bell's residence June 23 after receiving a complaint of animal cruelty by Wayne Turner. Turner is a heating and air specialist who was working near the Bell residence. Florence city police were also called to Bell's home.

The incident report filed states Turner had seen the dog outside in direct sun since Monday, June 21. It also states Turner went to the Bell residence to ask if the dog could be moved into the shade, but the woman who answered the Bell residence slammed the door it in his face.

When Turner was called back to an assignment bear Bells' home June 23, he saw the dog had no water and called Animal Control. Scotty Davis, who manages the animal control officers for the City of Florence, says two witnesses in addition to Turner signed sworn statements attesting to the mistreatment of the dog.

Animal Control officers appeared before a Florence city Judge to get an arrest warrant for Bell. The judge denied the arrest warrant, but did issue a courtesy summons. Bell was served with the courtesy summons July 6.

Had an arrest warrant been issued, Bell would have been taken immediately into custody. Instead, the courtesy summons informed him of the charges he faces and the date on which he is scheduled to appear in court.

Bell is scheduled to appear in court July 23, at which time he will enter a plea. If he does not plead guilty, he may request a jury trial or a bench trial, where the judge would determine guilt or innocence.

Bell faces a $500 fine or up to 30 days in jail if found guilty.

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