Owner of dog found in Norfolk basement pleads guilty to animal cruelty charge


Animal rights activists are celebrating over the judge’s decision to place a Norfolk man in jail for six months after he’s been charged with animal cruelty. Renard Morton pleaded guilty of animal neglect on Friday and was forced to surrender his dog to Norfolk Animal Control.


The 15-year-old dog’s health condition was deteriorating as she hasn’t been properly fed, nor given any love or attention. She was resembling a skeleton and had a huge tumor. Activists say she was days from death.

Morton accepted a plea deal from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and is supposed to start serving his sentence on March 30th of this year.

His home would be thoroughly inspected just to make sure there are no other pets kept in the basement.

animal cruelty charge

Morton’s trial was observed by a group of volunteers from the rescue agency Dog’s Deserve Better where Ruby is currently placed. They appeared at the court wearing red shirts and were eagerly waiting for the trial’s outcome.

“We can all show ourselves in solidarity as a group today. Everyone here would know why we are here for Ruby,” said Shocky Boyajian of Dogs Deserve Better. “Even though she can’t speak for herself, we can be her voice and that is why we are here – to be her voice.”

Everyone hopes that Morton’s case would serve as an example of how animals should never be treated and it would hopefully prevent other animal owners from doing similar gruesome acts of neglect and cruelty. 

“Hopefully it will just prevent people from acting like this towards animals. They will see there is a price to pay for it. Before, I feel like it was an act that people didn’t take seriously and the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.”

Morton, however, would be given a chance to serve his jail time during weekends only taking into consideration his daughter’s health condition. After his wife died of kidney failure, his daughter experienced same issues and is currently going through dialysis. Morton is her only caregiver and has to be by her side as much as he can.

“There are people that have a lot of things going on with their family,” Morton told News 3. “My wife had her kidney taken out; she died from kidney failure. My daughter is going through kidney problems right now.”

According to Morton, the ordeals his family had to go through were the main reason he was neglecting his dog.

We hope people would finally understand how every life matters.

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