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Posted on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township woman found guilty of animal cruelty after tying dog's mouth shut

By Amy Biolchini

An Ypsilanti Township woman has been found guilty of animal cruelty after tying her Alaskan Husky’s mouth shut with twine, the Humane Society of Huron Valley announced Tuesday.

The dog’s owner, Crystal Smith of Ypsilanti Township, was found guilty of animal cruelty March 21 in Judge Charles Pope's courtroom in the 14B District Court.


An Ypsilanti Township woman has been found guilty of animal cruelty to her Alaskan Husky.

Courtesy of HSHV

Severely underweight, dehydrated and with a large wound on his side, the dog was taken from Smith in August as a part of the investigation, said Deb Kern, communications director for HSHV.

Smith kept the dog chained up outside her Ypsilanti Township residence, said Matt Schaecher, director of animal cruelty for HSHV.

The dog got loose in August and a neighbor reported him to HSHV.

While in court, Smith admitted to tying the dog’s mouth shut with twine, according to the HSHV. The dog’s injuries were from a burn, Smith said, but she did not elaborate on where they came from, the humane society said.

The dog has been under the care of HSHV for the past 216 days over the course of the cruelty investigation.

The time it took to prosecute the case was average, Schaecher said, noting there were several adjournments in the case.

Typically, animal cruelty charges like the one Smith has been accused of would carry a 12-month probation sentence. HSHV asks for no contact with animals and for community service to be a part of the sentencing, Schaecher said.

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced May 2.

Under the care of the shelter for the duration of the cruelty investigation, the dog gained eight pounds in his first eight days in the care of HSHV.

Other injuries and medical problems related to neglect required lengthy medical treatment.

Kern said the dog is well-adjusted and playful.

The dog will now be up for adoption at the HSHV. Call HSHV (734) 661-3511 for more information, or visit the organization's website.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

I know it may sound harsh, but in cases like these I think the punishment should fit the crime. I'm not saying for any long length of time. Maybe like 12 hours. But she should feel all that that poor animal went though, even for a little while. Treat others how you would like to be treated yourself includes animals in my book. I mean, my cat tries to trip me up on the stairs and I still feed her, pet her, and treat her like a princess!


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:51 a.m.

Oh, I LOVE to pieces Alaska Husky's as they are truly beautiful dogs. Good for the HSHV in this case and I wish I could adopt him or her (since the article does not define the animal biological make up).


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:50 a.m.

Depending on what records are kept, further investigation would reveal previous problems with Ms. Smith and this dog. It's unfortunate that something couldn't have been done earlier in this dog's life to prevent the abuse to get to this level.

Eg Eg

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

There's a special place in Hell for people like this. Any idea where in Ypsi she lived?

Resident A2

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

What a terribly sad story. It really makes me sick when I read stories of those who can be so mean to animals. They love us so much, yet ask for so little. I hope the penalty is appropriate for the anguish/pain that this person has done to this helpless dog.

kathie patrick

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

perhaps the community service should be giving her a pooper scooper and plastic bag, and send her to the park.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

The humane society is calling the dog "Maverick." What's worse, this was found out in August. If she was tying the dog's mouth shut in the summer months, it's especially cruel as panting is the only way for dogs to sweat!

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

This kind of thing is just so sad. Thank goodness we have the HSHV to look into such cases and, of course, to rescue the animals.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

Here is something I heard on the radio the other day. Did you know the dog is the only animal in the world to really observe humans and et all? Interesting isn't it? Wonder what this dog has to say to its owner that used duct tape instead of a muzzle. We had to use one of those. Dog could not stop chewing..


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful Humane Society with all its caring staff! Send them a donation to help keep up the good work.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

gladys, if i could i'd send them a gazillion dollars.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

The penalties for animal cruelty in this state are an absolute joke. The worst part is that Michigan actually has some of the strongest laws in the country. In a few hundred years, people are going to look back on our treatment of animals and wonder what the hell we were thinking.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

"Typically, animal cruelty charges like the one Smith has been accused of would carry a 12-month probation sentence. HSHV asks for no contact with animals and for community service to be a part of the sentencing, Schaecher said." I hope this is included in the sentence. Cruelty against animals is just one of the things I will never understand.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Pretty Boy, may your life be nothing but caring owners and an abundance of kibble!


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Hopefully they'll post her picture when she gets sentenced.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

There has to be real penalties for these abusive people-----that poor, sweet dog!


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Why didn't the judge ask her how the dog got burned? Does this go on the abuser's permanent criminal record?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

I'm sure whoever adopts this dog will treat it much better. I can't believe how anyone can treat any pet like that. I feel guilty when I just raise my voice towards my dogs and then they give me the "I'm sorry" look.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

I can imagine the content of all the comments that have so far violated the conversation guidelines, and I agree with them. This makes me more angry than sad.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

yep sb, I posted a comment which was deleted because it wasn't "squeaky-clean", even though it contained no profanity. Censorship is alive and well, sad to say.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

If this is how frustrated and bad she treats a dog, let us hope she never gets contorl of a child.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

I hope she is sentenced to the max! There is NO excuse for abuse, especially against a defenseless animal.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

This is really sad. Multiple injuries and neglect...and tying the poor dog's muzzle closed with twine! I do hope the dog is adopted out to a good home, certainly deserves one after all it's been through!


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Such a beautiful animal, how can anybody be so cruel to the gifts God has given us.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

Awful, awful, awful. I'll never understand why people can be so cruel to animals. Maybe if jail time were involved it wouldn't happen so often.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Where did the wound on the dog's side come from? Why do animal abusers get such light sentences? Community service.... let's hope it isn't contact with anthing alive! Let's also hope this "Crystal Smith" gets a sentence that is in keeping with what she did to this poor dog. But you know, she probably doesn't even know she did anything wrong.


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

Seriously, how on earth does a dog get a deep burn on its side? That really sounds to me like a whole different level of animal cruelty to charge this person with.

Amy Biolchini

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

According to HSHV staff, the wound on the dog's side looked like a deep burn, but they couldn't tell for sure. Crystal Smith could not elaborate in court where the wound came from, HSHV said.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

I wish the penalty for something like this was just a bit stiffer. Maybe a maximum of 30 days in jail. It's pretty sad that such awful abuse is essentially given a slap on the wrist, compared with the comparable punishment for harming another person.

Robert Granville

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

Never mind the fact that people who do things like this to animals are far more likely to do them to humans.... you're probably right about stiffer sentences. 30 days in jail sounds appropriate.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

Did you not include the dog's name in the story because it violates your publishing guidelines, or did the HSHV not release the dog's name for privacy reasons?


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

Amy, if you had stated that HSHV withheld the name of "the dog" in your story, I would not have had to ask this question in your comments section.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

I trust that HSHV will do whatever is best for the dog.

Amy Biolchini

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

HSHV declined to give me the name of the dog when I asked. Their reason was that they did not want to skew the dog's chances of being adopted by a new family.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

This is what you've chosen to worry about?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

Ben, Journalism 101 is Who, What, When, Where and Why. Why should I have to click on a link to discover the name of "the dog"?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

There's a link to the animals up for adoption on the HSHV website in the story. It won't be hard to figure out which dog he is, once you look at the page of dogs.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

It's a good thing animals are very forgiving. I'd bet the Husky might have something to say to Crystal Smith if he could.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

He would probably wag his tail and lick her hand - because that's what dogs do, even after so terribly abused. And it brings me close to tears just thinking about it.

Blue Marker

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

Why have an animal if you're going to be cruel to it? Cruelty to a living thing that just wants your companionship is very sad. Such a beautiful dog too.