Ontario Police seized eight dogs from Casey Soper and Sharon Peplinski on June 30 after finding them in a hot car, distressed without food, water or air flow. The dogs were transported to the animal shelter Ani-Care in Ontario. (The Enterprise/Rachel Parsons)
A man and woman in Ontario have been cited on three occasions collectively for animal abuse in the last several weeks, with two cases resulting in criminal charges.
On June 11, Ontario police found six dogs inside a van owned by Casey Soper, 28, and Sharon Peplinski, 35, according to press release the Ontario Police Department issued Thursday afternoon.
The temperature was 89 degrees outside and over 120 degrees inside the van, with the dogs appearing to be distressed and the “windows only being slightly down,” according to the release.
Soper was cited then for cruelty to animals, a city ordinance violation.
According to a police report, Ontario police were dispatched on June 30 to Parkview Apartments on Northwest Fourth Street, where they found eight dogs and a cat abandoned in Soper’s and Peplinski’s van, which was missing rear tires.
The van’s windows “were fogged up from the dogs panting so hard” and wet on the inside, and they “were not cracked or opened to allow air flow for the dogs,” the police report said.
“All animals were distressed” and panting heavily, and there was no water or food for them, the report said. One officer reported seeing a dish with “that contained bright yellow urine,” and another recalled a cooking pot with urine in it.
“A couple of the dogs appeared to be so malnourished you could see the outline of their ribs under their skin,” the report stated.
An officer placed his knee against a door on the vehicle and opened it about an inch, stating, “I could feel the heat pour out of the inside of the vehicle. Several of the dogs scrambled to the door trying to stick their nose through either to get out or to get fresh air,” the report said.
The officer stated in the report that the cat inside had an oozing ear wound, and that there were four large dogs and four small Chihuahuas.
Officers spoke to Peplinski’s mother, who said the van had been there all night, the report said.
“I confirmed that the animals had been in this condition all night and that [Soper] left the animals at about 10:00 p.m.,” an officer said in the report.
After Peplinski and Soper showed up, an officer advised Soper that the dogs had been locked in the van since the night before without adequate shelter, water or food. According to the report, Soper said “the van had broken down and he left it there overnight.”
The officer told Soper “that the health condition of the dogs wasn’t good and that the animals had urinated all over inside of the vehicle and nobody has let them out to get fresh air,” the report stated.
The officer said police were taking the dogs for their well-being so they could get access to food and water and so “their overall health could be assessed.”
According to the report, Peplinski yelled, “You’re not taking my dogs,” and “Mom, they’re not taking my dogs.”
Peplinski told police that four dogs were hers and the other four were Soper’s, and she “admitted to knowing the dogs were left in this condition overnight.”
The officers advised the pair “that the dogs would be in good hands and would be taken care of and would be assessed for any health problems.”
The dogs were taken to the animal shelter Ani-Care, and Peplinski’s mother said she would take the cat to her home.
Peplinski and Soper were each charged with nine counts of second-degree animal neglect and nine counts of animal abandonment.
On July 11, Ontario police were dispatched to Northwest Ninth Street “regarding a white van with a dog inside a hot car,” according to an incident report.
Officers found the dog, two kittens and one grown cat inside the van, parked on the street in the sun. The dog was panting heavily with an early sign of heat stroke, the report said, and the cats were crying.
“The windows were slightly cracked,” the report stated, but the outside temperature was 99 degrees and the internal reading in the van was 118 degrees.
“My thermometer stops at 120,” an officer said in the report, “and it almost topped out as I was taking the temperature inside the vehicle.”
“All the animals inside the vehicle were clearly in distress,” the officer reported. “All had their mouths open and panting at the time of our arrival.”
A witness told the officer that “the animal had been inside the vehicle for several hours.”
“The van at this time was in despair,” the officer reported, and there was “a strong smell of urine and fecal matter coming from the vehicle, even with the windows cracked.”
The report stated that Soper and Peplinski “were both very upset and aggressive about being confronted about the animals being locked in a hot vehicle without food or water.”
The officer told Soper and Peplinski to remove the animals from the vehicle – which they did – and not put them back inside, the report stated.
The officers did not seize the animals in this case as opposed to the June 30 incident because there were fewer animals, they were in better condition, and Soper and Peplinski had the means to provide adequate shelter for the three cats, said Dallas Brockett, code enforcement officer with the Ontario Police Department.
Soper was charged on July 15 with four counts of second-degree animal neglect for the July 11 incident, according to Malheur County Circuit Court records.
If convicted of animal abandonment or neglect, the state law requires that a person “may not possess any animal of the same genus against which the crime was committed or any domestic animal for a period of five years following entry of the conviction.”
The only relief from the statute “applies to livestock handlers who request a hearing and meet specific requirements,” said Malheur County District Attorney Dave Goldthorpe.
Peplinski was convicted of animal abandonment in 2018, court records show, after police responded to a report of “several dogs being housed in a small camp trailer” in Ontario, according to an incident report.
In that case, police removed nine dogs from the trailer. An officer estimated the temperature inside of the trailer to be 110 degrees, reporting “that there was not enough room for nine dogs” and “that there were a couple of bites of food and a half a bowl of water for all nine dogs,” according to a police report.
Peplinski was sentenced to a year’s probation – during which she could not possess any animals – and had to serve six days on a county work crew.
News tip? Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian by email at [email protected] or call 503-929-3053.
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