A Newport Coast woman was charged Wednesday with several misdemeanors for allegedly dumping her ailing golden retriever with a 42-pound tumor at an animal hospital as a stray.
Sherri Haughton was charged with life-endangering animal neglect, failure to care for an animal, animal abandonment and interfering with the duties of an animal control officer, all misdemeanors, according to Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Malone. Haughton, who could face up to two years in jail if convicted at trial, was scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 13.
Prosecutors and animal control agents said Wednesday that the owner had options to get Henry the medical care he required, which would have avoided the animal cruelty case. Newport Beach police, animal control officers, Malone, the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Supervisor Michelle Steel urged owners of ailing pets at a news conference to turn their animals over to authorities if they cannot afford veterinary care.
It would have cost Haughton $81 to turn the dog over to Newport Beach's animal control officers, who would have foot the bill for the surgery, Malone said.
Instead, the Newport Coast woman is facing criminal charges.
"No animal should be subjected to needless pain and suffering," Malone said.
On May 12, Haughton went to AAA Animal Hospital in Huntington Beach and told veterinarians that she found a stray on the beach, Malone said. Her dog, Henry, was having trouble walking and couldn't lift his leg to urinate because of the heavy tumor, Malone said.
Haughton allegedly was told by a veterinarian earlier that the dog needed care for the tumor, but Malone declined comment on why she failed to seek medical treatment or why she took the dog to the animal hospital and allegedly claimed it was not her pet.
Henry now is living with a foster family in Orange County, Malone said. The dog had the tumor surgically removed nearly a week after he was dropped off at the animal hospital, Malone said.
"As of right now, Henry's a happy dog," said Animal Control Officer Nick Ott.
Haughton is scheduled to appear in court in January. It was not immediately clear whether she has an attorney.