Sixteen months after the dog that came to be known as Braveheart was found moments from death in a storage locker, his abuser will face justice. The jury trial begins Monday at the Caddo Parish Courthouse in Shreveport.
Gabriel Lee will finally have to face whatever the justice system finds fit for him.
If you're not familiar with Braveheart, his Facebook page is here; in short, the puppy (at the time) was found chained to a Cadillac Escalade at the peak of Louisiana's humid summer heat, inside a metal storage building, left to die. He had no food, no water, could not stand, and was literally moments from death. Gabriel Lee, who owned the dog at the time, left the dog in the locker with a heavy chain around his neck, closed and locked the door, and walked away.
Braveheart sat in that locker slowly starving, dehydrating, and dying.
Luckily, he was discovered in time and rushed to the emergency animal clinic where the heroic effort to save his life began.
This is from a post I did after one of the preliminary court dates in August:
By the time Brave was found... he could not lift his head off the oily concrete to drink water, much less eat; he was literally hours away from death. His organs were shutting down. He looked like a carcass. He was taken to the 24-hour emergency vet clinic where he was given 2 or 3 transfusions, IV fluids, and had his blood work checked every eight hours for the first few days and then every single day for a month after that. The effort to stabilize and save him was heroic.
Then, of course, there was the awful battle withCaddo Animal Control who seized Braveheart from the Spataros who were fostering him; they said they had to keep Brave as "evidence" until the proceedings were over. Seriously? By the time this finally reaches the jury it
will be one year and four months; there's no way that dog, as sick and unvaccinated as he was, would have survived that. Naturally there was a great deal of protest and outrage and in the face of a protest outside the gates of the facility, Animal Control finally released Brave back to Bo and Ronda. It was about that time that Gabriel Lee signed papers relinquishing his ownership of the dog.
Brave was adopted by Bo and Ronda: Ronda made a promise to Braveheart the day he was seized that she would get him back -- and she did. Promise kept.
But there was another promise. A promise for justice. Hopefully that will come next week.
Today, Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator warned the public against protests at the courthouse:
Prator's statement, released Friday, cited Louisiana Revised Statute 14:401, which prohibits "interfering with" or "impeding the administration of justice" by protesting "in or near a building housing a court of the state of Louisiana."
Braveheart's supporters have vowed to honor Prator's edict. For them, nothing will stand in the way of justice, and to risk a mistrial over a button or a t-shirt is simply not worth it.
Bo and Ronda Spataro, who fought Caddo Animal Control for Braveheart and then adopted him, now help educate against animal abuse with Braveheart as ambassador, (They named him after adopting him.) Braveheart will serve as Grand Marshall during our Barkus and Meoux Parade in February. They believe the evidence will speak for itself; again, from my August post:
It's hard to fathom what the defense will have to offer; the man who owned Braveheart (Bo and Ronda named him Braveheart) admitted the dog was his when he signed papers relinquishing his ownership so Bo and Ronda could legally adopt him. So, "the dog wasn't mine" isn't an option.
He can't say he didn't know the dog was in the locker he rented because he's already admitted he knew. In the police report he said he'd left the dog there for two days -- (it was obviously much longer than that).
His only defense might be that he was trying to find a home for the dog, but if that's the case, you've got to wonder why he chained the dog to a car with a very heavy chain, closed him up in a locker with no food or water, and went away; why the heavy chain? Where was he going to go?It will be up to a jury now.
For Braveheart, he now is healthy and has a loving home, which may be enough, but there are many others out there like him. We worked to rescue a bait dog earlier this year (again, a happy ending! Lucky went to a great home!)
For all those other dogs, and for Braveheart too, we hope that justice is finally served next week.
If you attend the trial next week, please comply with Sheriff Prator's decision regarding protests; nothing is worth a mistrial here. It's time for justice, now.
(Previous Braveheart posts here).
Braveheart's Facebook page is here.