NORRISTOWN >> A Douglass (Berks) man with an animal cruelty conviction in his past has admitted to an identical charge, this time in connection with the neglect and starvation death of a German shepherd.
Jeffrey A. Helverson, 51, of the 400 block of North Sunrise Lane, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to three years’ probation and 200 hours of community service after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals and disorderly conduct in connection with the June 2015 incident. Senior Judge S. Gerald Corso, who accepted a plea agreement, said Helverson “shall not own animals” as a special condition of the sentence.
In court papers, authorities alleged Helverson took his 2-year-old German shepherd “Luna” to the Pottsgrove Animal Hospital in Upper Pottsgrove on June 7, 2015.
“Helverson had to carry Luna inside because she was so thin that she was unable to walk,” Upper Pottsgrove Police Officer Larry Hanna wrote in the arrest affidavit, adding a veterinarian determined the dog weighed only 38 pounds and had to be hospitalized due to her poor health condition.
Tests determined the dog was “emaciated, dehydrated and in grave condition,” according to the criminal complaint. On June 8, veterinarians, suspecting the dog’s condition was the result of neglect and starvation, reported the incident to the Montgomery County SPCA.
On June 9, officials reported Luna died overnight. The results of a necropsy indicated Luna’s death was the result of starvation, according to the criminal complaint.
In a report, a veterinarian specifically noted that, “the animal had easily visible and palpable ribs, vertebral prominences and long bone prominences” and suffered from a loss of muscle mass and a lack of fat tissue, according to court papers.
When Helverson picked up Luna’s remains on June 16 at the SPCA he was “very apologetic and voiced concerns of being arrested,” according to court papers.
The conviction marked the second time Helverson has admitted to animal cruelty. In October 2004, Helverson, then 39, formerly of the 200 block of School Lane, Stowe, was sentenced to four to 23 months in county jail and three years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in connection with the neglect and mistreatment of two dogs, one of which died.
According to a criminal complaint filed by West Pottsgrove police, authorities went to the School Lane home on Dec. 29, 2003, to investigate a report of a dead dog on the premises. When police arrived at the home, which was owned by Helverson, they found two metal dog cages joined together but divided in the middle by a metal fence.
In one cage police found extremely “old looking food” in a dish and a dead cocker spaniel named “CJ,” according to the criminal complaint.
In the second cage, police found a terrier, an empty food dish, a bucket filled with brown water, dirt and leaves and three raw, uneaten rib bones, court documents indicate.
“The water bucket was sitting inside the cage in such a position that the terrier, later identified as being named ‘Pete,’ could not reach the water, due to the length of the chain he was attached to,” police wrote in the criminal complaint. “Pete appeared very emaciated.”
Police and members of the SPCA, who took possession of Pete, also discovered a “large open wound” on the terrier’s neck, which apparently was caused by the chain, court documents indicate. The wound also appeared to have been untreated for numerous weeks, police said.
During police interviews, Helverson admitted being the primary caretaker of both dogs and explained he moved from the School Lane property several weeks earlier due to financial difficulties and left both dogs behind, court documents indicate.
Helverson, according to the arrest affidavit, admitted to last feeding the dogs between Dec. 15 and Dec. 19, 2003, and admitted to not having anyone else care for the dogs at any time, police said.