Pierce County prosecutors this week charged a Gig Harbor man with felony animal cruelty for allegedly duct-taping shut the mouth of his son’s dog to get the animal to stop barking.
Paul G. Sweeney, 57, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Pierce County Superior Court and was released on his own recognizance pending trial. Court Commissioner Meagan Foley prohibited Sweeney from owning animals until the case is resolved.
Sweeney declined to discuss the case on the record with The News Tribune, saying he didn’t think it would be wise to talk publicly before his charge is resolved.
Zak Sweeney is the defendant’s son and owner of the dog, Daisy, a 2-year-old Doberman pinscher he bought as a puppy. He said Wednesday that his father is a good man and that authorities have blown the case out of proportion.
“There’s nothing wrong with the dog,” said Zak Sweeney, 23. “The dog was fine.”
His father came to the attention of authorities Monday when a passerby spotted Daisy in the backyard of Paul Sweeney’s home, court records show. The witness told police the animal’s snout was taped shut, that the dog also had tape around its front legs and “was foaming at the mouth,” the records show.
A sheriff’s deputy dispatched to the scene found the dog lying on the ground with duct tape “wrapped several times” around its snout. The dog’s paws also were taped.
The deputy confronted Paul Sweeney, who allegedly said he taped the dog’s mouth shut to keep it from barking and its paws to keep it from digging in the yard.
The deputy stood by while Sweeney removed the tape. The dog whimpered in pain throughout, records state.
Zak Sweeney told The News Tribune that he could find no evidence Daisy was hurt. “There was no hair missing from my dog’s face,” he said.
The younger Sweeney also said Daisy previously had chewed up muzzles the family purchased to try to control her barking.
A county animal control officer, after advising Paul Sweeney of his rights, asked how long Daisy had been taped.
“About four hours,” he replied, according to the court records. He said he’d taped the dog’s mouth shut once or twice before, the records show.
The animal control officer noted in a report that Daisy had been left in the full sun on a day when temperatures reached into the mid-70s.
Daisy always had access to shade, food and water and was groomed once a month, Zak Sweeney said. He showed a reporter a video he took of the family’s backyard. The video shows several areas of shade; another family dog is seen lolling in the sun.
Zak Sweeney also disputed that the dog was taped for four hours, saying he left to run an errand about noon Friday and got a call an hour or so later saying his father was being arrested and his dog taken by authorities.
Animal control confiscated Daisy. The dog recovered well after some water and rest in an air-conditioned room, court records show.