Muncie woman convicted in puppy-tossing case

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A Muncie woman will no longer be allowed to have pets after she was convicted of throwing away a live puppy at her Muncie home.

The Star Press reported Wednesday, Shemika T. Robinson, 36, on Tuesday was convicted of cruelty to an animal in Muncie City Court, more than four months after the alleged incident in the 1300 block of East Main Street.

Robinson was also sentenced by City Court Judge Dianna Bennington to 180 days in jail and must serve 50 hours of community service, according to Deputy Prosecutor J. Thomas Hurley.

Phil Peckinpaugh, superintendent at the Muncie Animal Shelter, said he was elated with the ruling and the related sentence.

"I think that Judge Bennington made the absolute right call for this situation," Peckinpaugh said. "And hopefully it will send a message out to individuals who commit crimes such as these that it's something we do take very seriously here in Muncie, and it won't be tolerated."

According to Peckinpaugh, Bennington ruled Robinson will no longer be allowed to own pets upon her release from jail. At Peckinpaugh's request, Robinson will also have to spend her community service at the Muncie Animal Shelter and with animal control officials.

"I think it's important for people who commit crimes like this to see the reality of what they're doing and to feel the impact that we feel and feel the impact, most importantly, that the animals feel, and hopefully give (Robinson) a little dose of reality as to what that's like," Peckinpaugh said.

According to a Muncie Police Department case report, the police investigation into Robinson's actions began about 10:30 a.m. Feb. 13 after Muncie Sanitary District employee Mike Upchurch called the Muncie Animal Shelter to report finding a live Shih-tzu-mix puppy in a trash Toter outside Robinson's East Main Street home.

Upchurch — who told The Star Press he saved the 6-week-old puppy and warmed him up before the canine was given to animal care officials — later adopted the dog and named him "Garby."

Delaware County Prosecutor Jeffrey Arnold in March said Robinson "consistently told people" she threw the dog away because she thought it had died. Muncie City Court officials said Robinson made no statement about her crime to the court during Tuesday's hearing.

Peckinpaugh told The Star Press after the incident in February that Robinson also thought the dumped puppy was suffering from parvo, a highly-contagious and at-times deadly virus strand found in dogs. The puppy was taken to Westview Animal Clinic, where it was found to be suffering from starvation and from low blood sugar — and not from parvo.

In an interview with The Star Press on Wednesday, Upchurch said he was satisfied with the judge's ruling against Robinson, though he considered it bittersweet.

"I'm glad and I'm proud of our community that they made a stand and stood up and convicted her, because maybe that will deter someone in the future from doing this," Upchurch said. "But my heart also goes out to (Robinson) because she has a family and it'll bring hardship to her and her family. It just stinks there's no winners with animal abuse or any kind of violence."

Garby has since become a celebrity — on a local, national and international scale — since the incident was first reported by The Star Press. A Facebook fan page for Garby as of Wednesday had collected more than 3,900 "likes," and he has been the subject in publications as far as Australia.

Upchurch said Garby is up to 14 pounds now and "is full of energy and running the household."

"I think he's going to make it," Upchurch said with a laugh. "It's pretty amazing, really. I had no idea that it would come to this. I just saw the little guy and did what any other animal lover would do."

Tuesday's conviction for Robinson, meanwhile, was her fourth in Delaware County since 2008, court records indicate.

In 2008, Robinson was convicted of maintaining a common nuisance in Delaware Circuit Court 5 and was sentenced to nine months on electronic home detention. Related charges of possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana against Robinson were dismissed.

The next year, Robinson was charged with driving while suspended in Muncie City Court. According to court records, Robinson pleaded guilty to that charge as an ordinance violation and was fined $214.

Robinson returned to the courtroom last November after being convicted of receiving stolen property in Delaware Circuit Court 1. She was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation, records indicate.

Robinson's jail sentence is expected to begin Monday.

Information from: The Star Press