After at least seven dead dogs were found on the Yellville property of 39-year-old Chance Dodson, Dodson received a two-year prison sentence after he entered a no contest plea to one count of aggravated animal cruelty. He was found guilty and sentenced to prison on Wednesday by Circuit Court Judge John Putman.
As part of a plea bargain two other charges of aggravated animal cruelty were dropped along with charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
In an affidavit filed in the case, deputy Brett Castle said at 4:05 a.m. on March 13 he was dispatched to 1041 Hemlock Lane. Upon arriving, Castle said the mobile home was fully engulfed in flames. A firefighter approached the deputy and said a man at a nearby home was screaming at him.
Castle approached the home and discovered Dodson there and immediately noted Dodson appeared to be under the influence of some type of intoxicant. Castle tried to question the man about the fire, but reported Dodson was incoherent, off topic and was speaking about finding something on the road.
Castle asked Flippin police officer Kenneth Looney to run a check of Dodson. Looney discovered Dodson had warrants out of Marion and Boone counties. Castle told Dodson that because Dodson’s house was burning, they’d worry about the warrants on another day.
As Castle walked back toward the scene of the fire, he scanned the roadside, searching for anything, because of Dodson’s earlier assertions about something on the road. The officer spotted a pill bottle with Dodson’s name on it. Inside the bottle, Castle reported finding suspected meth.
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When Castle made it back to the fire scene, he was again approached by a firefighter. The firefighter told the deputy a small dog had run out from underneath the blazing mobile home. The dog was very weak “with nearly no muscle and all bones showing,” according to the affidavit.
The dog’s ears were “poorly cut” Castle noted, stating the ears were cut nearly even to the dog’s skull.
Seeing the condition of the dog, Castle wrote he was concerned there might be other animals around the property. Castle’s concern proved valid, according to the affidavit.
Approximately 15 feet from the front door of the mobile home, Castle reported finding a dead dog he described as appearing to be deceased for quite some time. The dog still had a collar attached of its neck.
Castle walked to the back of the mobile home and things got worse.
The deputy spotted 10 plastic drums modified to serve as dog kennels. The drums each had stakes in front of them. In the first drum Castle approached, he found a dead dog with a collar attached to a chain. Castle wrote in the affidavit the dog appeared to have been dead for quite some time.
He inspected the other barrels and wrote in the affidavit that around “almost every barrel” he discovered the skeletal remains of more dogs.
A third firefighter approached the deputy as he walked back towards the front of the trailer. The firefighter delivered more grim news.
When firefighters were able to enter the mobile home, they found a room full of dog kennels. The kennels had a “large amount” of feces in them, according to the affidavit. The firefighters also found several harnesses they believed could have been used in dog fighting.
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The deputy then approached Dodson and asked him about the dead dogs and the starving dog. Dodson reportedly told the deputy that someone had poisoned his dogs.
The Bulletin contacted Marion County Sheriff Clinton Evans and asked if Dodson ever filed a complaint of someone poisoning his dogs. The sheriff checked the records and reported that in the past eight years, Dodson never filed a complaint about his dogs being poisoned.
When asked about the meth, Dodson reportedly told the deputy someone had planted the drugs on him, according to the affidavit.
Upon finding the meth, the starving dog, the dead dogs and the potential dog fighting gear, Castle placed the man under and transported him to the Marion County jail.
Sheriff Evans made it clear his office will aggressively pursue suspects who commit cruelty to animals.
“We take animal cruelty cases seriously and we investigate them thoroughly,” the sheriff said. “We will do everything we can in such cases to give prosecutors the evidence they need to hold those who commit these crimes fully accountable for their actions.”
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