A former owner of a Georgia dog grooming company was found guilty Thursday morning of animal cruelty and taken away from a Forsyth County court in cuffs.
Forsyth News Now reports that Michelle Louise Root, former owner of the now-closed Paw’sh Paws in Forsyth County, was arrested in October 2017 after Eric Francis, co-owner of a dog named Meko, returned to Root’s business to pick up his pup and found him dead and lying on a grooming table. According to Assistant District Attorney Michael Mahoney, the incident occurred after Root put the dog on a grooming table and “hung it too high for its paws.”
“She got the dog out front, she put it on the table and she hung it too high for its paws, and the dog choked ladies and gentlemen, the dog choked to death,” Mahoney said.
Frances told the court that when he arrived and saw his dog lying unresponsive on the grooming table, Root told him the pet pup “had a seizure.” Dr. John McGruder of Crestview Animal Hospital later examined the dog and pronounced the him dead. The official cause of death was choking.
#BREAKING The jury has found Michelle Louise Root Guilty on one count of aggravated cruelty to animals for the death of dog, Meko. She was found Not Guilty on the second charge for the death of another dog, Little Boy.
Story: https://t.co/RI06R7BcOD pic.twitter.com/Z2wVwOiDJh
— Forsyth County News (@forsythnews) November 1, 2018
According to the defense, Meko started “flipping out” while Root groomed him and began biting her and acting uncontrollable. The defense also said the pup began to “alligator roll” with his leash on and eventually fell off of the grooming table, causing him to hang.
Doris Miller of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, however, said that dog would had to have hanged around “5 to 12 minutes” before he would die from choking. Miller also testified that Meko showed signs of physical abuse.
“(Miller’s) going to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that that dog was covered in bruises. That dog had trauma to its neck, trauma to its head, indicative of being abused,” Mahoney said.
Lisa Riles, who was working at Paw’sh Paws when Root was grooming Meko, told authorities that she saw Root drag the pup to the front of the store. kick him in the head, bang him against several objects, and slam him onto the grooming table.
Julie Roloff also took the stand and testified that she worked with Root at Petsmart from 2006 to 2007. Roloff said she reported alleged abuse that Root dished out to the animals being groomed “at least 48 times,” but nothing ever came of it.
“They wouldn’t do anything,” Roloff said. “They had to catch her in the act.”
Despite numerous witnesses taking the stand for the prosecution, including local dog grooming owners and law enforcement, defense lawyer Rafe Banks III insisted that the tragic incident was an accident.
“What you will find is, it was an accident,” Banks said. “Yes, it’s tragic, and it’s certainly unfortunate, but nobody intended for Meko to die.”
Ultimately, the jury found Root guilty of animal cruelty and sentenced her to three years behind bars, followed by community service. Root was also accused of killing another dog, Little Boy, after he was found with a ruptured spleen and another signs of severe abuse that led to euthanasia. The jury found Root not guilty due to lack of evidence in Little Boy’s case.
Meko giving kiss to his hooman mommy
Posted by Justice4Meko on Sunday, July 29, 2018
“This defendant was trusted to care for dogs, she was trusted to treat them with respect, she was trusted to keep her cool … and she broke that trust,” Mahoney added.
[Feature Photo: Michelle Root: Police Handout/Meko: Handout]