From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:
Dr. Charles Allen Bickerstaff of James Island didn't say a word during his court hearing on Wednesday, instead his attorney did all the talking.
His lawyer said, Bickerstaff is a good resident of the Charleston area. He said Bickerstaff feels awful about what happened to his nine dogs. He claims the doctor had left the dogs in a situation "he" thought was perfectly safe.
Neighbors on Catbird Retreat in James Island say the charges are very unlike the doctor. Tom Kelechi, said he has known the Bickerstaff family for several years and they are very kind people, even giving him medical care at no cost. Kelechi says Charles and his wife would always talk about their nine King Charles Cavaliers and treated them like their “fur-babies.”
“Those dogs were like their kids, they never had kids so the dogs were their passion. They were obsessed with them, they showed them, they had trainers they spent a lot of money on those dogs and it's terrible,” Kelechi said.
However, the affidavit paints a different picture of Bickerstaff. He is charged with nine counts of ill treatment of animals and one count of torture.
Already animal lovers are lashing out on his Facebook page.
On August 11, 2014 he left the nine dogs inside his Ford Explorer and went to work at East Cooper Hospital. According to his statement, he thought the dogs had just “passed out.” He then took the dogs to Mount Pleasant Emergency Vet on Johnnie Dodds Blvd. The affidavit also shows five dogs had signs of what's called "rigor mortis" in other words signs of stiffness, meaning they hadn't just died when he discovered what had happened.
The Charleston Animal Society says it goes to show, people should never leave pets inside vehicles because it doesn't take longer than a few minutes for a pet to suffer a heat stroke. Furthermore, just last summer the penalties for animal cruelty were made stiffer.
“Judges have more leniency at are able to assign tougher penalties for animal cruelty and animal neglect cases,” said Sarah Boyd a veterinary with the Animal Society.
The bond court judge did issue a stiff bond for Bickerstaff as well.
“There is a saying in my religion, that you feed the children and the animals first.”
The doctor's bond was set at $90,000 or $10,000 for each dog.
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