Prosecution for Maryland Dog Freezing to Death

The Animal Legal Defense Fund funded the necropsy of an elderly dog named Oscar, who died sometime between December 30, 2017, and January 1, 2018, when he was kept outside of his owner's home in Baltimore County, Maryland, in 20-degree weather.

Updated

January 8, 2019

Work Type

Criminal Justice

Status

Victory

Defendant plead guilty

Next Step

Case Closed

The Animal Legal Defense Fund funded the necropsy of an elderly dog named Oscar, who died sometime between December 30, 2017, and January 1, 2018, when he was kept outside of his owner’s home in Baltimore County, Maryland, in 20-degree weather. His owner, Selvin Gnanakkan, claimed Oscar died of old age. The necropsy proved Oscar died of hypothermia, and the death was preventable. This crucial evidence was used to prosecute Gnanakkan.

In December 2018, Gnanakkan entered an Alford plea  to one count of animal cruelty. He was sentenced six months of unsupervised probation, a $500 fine, and a $2,260 payment for forensic veterinary services. Gnanakkan was also barred from possessing animals (possession ban) for three years — a key victory.

In the wake of Oscar’s death, public outcry led to the Baltimore County Council to pass Oscar’s Law which requires pets be brought inside within 30 minutes after the onset of “adverse environmental conditions” — and clarifies that animal control officers and police officers have the ability to investigate claims of animal cruelty.

Who is being sued, why, and under what law? Selvin Gnanakkan, for animal cruelty

Why this case is important: It is illegal to cause a companion animal to freeze to death in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s expert animal cruelty attorneys work closely with local police and prosecutors’ offices to get neglected and abused animals the justice they deserve.

Stop Animal Cruelty

Every day, animals are abused and killed. Their abusers frequently do not face any consequences – it’s still extremely common for animal cruelty to go unpunished. Without you, animals have no voice. Sign the petition.

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Stop Animal Cruelty

Every day, animals are abused and killed. Their abusers frequently do not face any consequences – it’s still extremely common for animal cruelty to go unpunished. Without you, animals have no voice. Sign the petition.

Take Action