CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – A woman who posted a picture of her dog with its mouth taped shut now faces charges in Cary, where she was staying with the dog.
The image of the dog with thick gray tape across its mouth was posted Friday and exploded on the Internet.
Katharine F. Lemansky, age 45, whose Facebook page lists her as Katie Brown, is charged with Class 1 Misdemeanor Cruelty to Animals. The charge carries a fine and up to 150 days in jail.
Her Facebook page had listed her as living in South Daytona, Florida, but she was tracked to Cary, where she was staying with the dog, Cary police said.
Lemansky moved to Connecticut over a year ago but Florida detectives said they believe she was driving back to South Daytona for a visit when she posted the photo, WESH-TV reported.
Lemansky was tracked to Churchview Street in Cary where she was located and charged, according to Cary Police, who did not provide a specific address. She must appear in a Wake County court Dec. 14.
“Taping the dog’s muzzle shut was a terrible decision on Ms. Lemansky’s part, and charging her with animal cruelty under North Carolina law was the right thing to do,” said Cary Police Captain Randall Rhyne.
Before the charges on Monday afternoon Florida police said some of Lemansky’s family members believe Lemansky may have halted her trip and gone into hiding, WESH-TV reported.
“I think she may be trying to go underground to not be identified because there were people on Facebook making death threats,” South Daytona Police Police Ron Wright said.
Cary Police said they checked the dog when they found Lemansky.
“… it’s important to also note that our animal control officers who physically examined both Brown and her littermate found the dogs to be very well cared for, which is why we did not and could not remove them from the owner. The dogs are current on their shots, spayed, and microchipped. They are clean and well-nourished and appear to be comfortable in their surroundings. And there were no signs of injury to Brown’s muzzle, not even detectable hair loss.”
The Cary Police said they sent officers to visit Lemansky just one hour after being alerted by South Daytona police.
On Facebook, she claimed the dog was barking too much. The photo was posted Friday to an account from Katie Brown from South Daytona. She also shared a message, “This is what happens when you don’t shut up!!!”
Within 24 hours, the post was shared hundreds of thousands of times, overrunning the website for the city of South Daytona calls to the city’s emergency communications center from as far away as Australia.
Seven people were called in to work overtime to handle the large number of 911 calls. People were begging the city and law enforcement to find the woman and rescue the dog. The owner, it turns out, was in Avon, Connecticut, for the holiday weekend, Cary Police said.
Police in both Connecticut and Florida are investigating the woman, who also goes by the name of Katharine Lemansky and has a criminal record, according to sources. The dog, she assured investigators, is fine and in good health. However, she still could face criminal charges in Connecticut. If she does, in fact, return to Florida with the dog, animal services is authorized to confiscate the pup.
Just before 3 p.m. Saturday, Torrington Animal Control in Connecticut posted an update on Facebook, stating, “At this time our inbox is not currently working so please bear with us as we try to read through all of your messages. We are still diligently working on tracking down the owner who posted that dreadful picture to Facebook earlier this morning but it appears that she is no longer residing in Avon … or Connecticut for that matter. All new, and pertinent information that we get is being immediately forward to Daytona PD as that is where the suspect is believed to be living/heading. Thank you all for your concern for this animal.”
Lemansky owns a home in South Daytona, where her son is believed to be living, Cary Police said.
Material from WFLA contributed to this report.