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Archie Ingersoll, Grand Forks Herald, Published September 21 2010

Deceased dog’s owner charged with abandonment

The owner of a dog that was reportedly found dead and emaciated in an unoccupied Grand Forks apartment now faces a criminal charge of abandoning an animal.

A property manager, who was checking to see if the apartment had been vacated, discovered the body of Lyric, a 5-year-old female Pekingese, on Sept. 8, authorities said.

Police said the deceased dog appeared malnourished; there was no food or water available; and there were feces throughout the unit at 2324 Sixth Ave. N.

Two veterinarians who examined Lyric could not say for certain how she died, but the vets told police a dog like her, when living, should weigh 15 to 20 pounds. Police said her corpse weighed 6 pounds.

An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for Lyric’s 24-year-old owner, Johnell Hallman. No phone number was listed for Hallman. On Monday, the Grand Forks County clerk of court’s office did not know if he had an attorney.

According to a police affidavit, Hallman was renting the apartment where Lyric’s body was found. He sent an e-mail to the property management company on Sept. 1, saying he was in Minneapolis and would be in Grand Forks later this month to clean out his stuff, the affidavit says.

During the investigation into Lyric’s death, Hallman told an officer over the phone that he had been in Minneapolis for more than a month and that he had thought a friend was caring for his dog. Hallman would not tell the officer the name of that friend, the affidavit states.

Neighbors told police they had not seen Hallman in over a month and had heard Lyric whimpering about two to three weeks ago but presumed someone was caring for her, the affidavit says.

Abandoning an animal is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year behind bars and a $2,000 fine.