Cecil man faces charge in dog’s beating death

January 9, 2014
Woodruff Memorial Park and Peaceful Pastures Pet Cemetery - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A Cecil Township man will be charged by Washington Area Humane Society’s police officer with cruelty to animals after he allegedly beat his girlfriend’s elderly dog to death Thursday morning with a car jack at a pet cemetery.

Charles D. Harvath, 50, of 3386 Millers Run Road, will be charged by humane police Officer Logan Wade for allegedly beating the dog, a chow, in the head.

Wade said the owner of the chow, Janine Hughes, 60, of 109 Chambers Lane, North Strabane Township, will be cited for animal cruelty for reportedly failing to provide the dog with veterinary care. Wade said the dog was in poor physical shape and very underweight. He said the chow should have been euthanized.

North Strabane police Sgt. David Richards said he got a call about 11:25 a.m. from a dispatcher at the Washington County 911 center. A representative of Peaceful Pastures Pet Cemetery called to report that a man, later identified as Harvath, had brought in a dog to be cremated.

“The dog was still alive but in bad health,” Richards said. “Harvath left, went to the end of the driveway and whacked it with a car jack. Then, he brought the dog back up to Peaceful Pastures so it could be cremated.”

The cemetery employee could see the injury to the dog’s head and notified animal control officer Kym Secreet, who in turn notified police and Wade.

Wade said Harvath openly admitted to hitting the dog twice in the head before taking the animal to the pet cemetery and hitting it two more times on the cemetery property. Harvath told police he did not have money to have the dog euthanized.

Richards said police often see animal abuse, but admits this is more extreme than most cases.

“People need to realize that when you take on the responsibility of having an animal, you are also taking on the responsibility of taking care of it,” Richards said. “If you can’t afford to take care of the animal, relinquish it to the humane society.

“If you take the dog to a vet to have it euthanized, you will be charged (for the procedure). There are proper ways to dispose of domestic animals. This certainly was not the right way.”

Wade said a necropsy will be done on the dog Friday to determine the severity of the injuries. Charges against Harvath and Hughes will be sent by summons from the office of District Judge Jay Weller.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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