LARNED — Tuesday afternoon, a Larned man, Tiffany Dale Willinger, 51, appeared before Pawnee County District Court for a pretrial hearing in connection with a misdemeanor criminal case of cruelty to animals that occurred on or around July 31, 2019.
According to a news release from Pawnee County Attorney Doug McNett’s office, “In the early morning hours of July 31, 2019, an abandoned pit bull puppy was found alongside a road in rural Pawnee County. The puppy was still alive but had been shot multiple times. Due to the extent of its injuries, the puppy had to be euthanized.”
On July 31, the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Department posted a photo of the puppy on social media, asking the public for assistance in finding the owner. A second request was made Aug. 13.
According to the release, around Oct. 11, Willinger’s wife Kimberly, 49 of Larned, provided false information to a PCSO Deputy about the incident, as did Willinger himself on Oct. 12. But on Nov. 21, both Willinger and his wife were taken into custody on charges stemming from the incident.
Willinger was charged with one count of cruelty to animals done without malicious intent, and one count of count of interference with law enforcement for providing false information to a PCSO Deputy. His wife was also charged with one count of interference with law enforcement for the same reason.
At the pretrial, the parties announced a plea agreement had been reached whereby the State agreed to dismiss the second count in exchange for the defendant’s plea to the first. Willinger plead no contest to the cruelty to animals count. Willinger’s counsel advised the court the defendant’s plan had been to put the puppy down because he felt it was vicious. Willinger expressed remorse for the way he attempted to euthanize the puppy and for ultimately abandoning it once his attempts to kill the animal failed.
The release stated Pawnee County Magistrate Judge Julie Cowell accepted the plea and sentenced the defendant to a 12 month underlying jail sentence suspended to 30 days in the Pawnee County Jail, court costs, booking fee, attorney fees, probation fees and $233.75 restitution for veterinarian expenses. The Court directed the defendant to report to the Pawnee County Jail by 9:00 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 24, to commence serving his sentence. Upon release, he will be subject to 12 months supervision by Court Services.
(Note: According to McNett, in the Kansas Cruelty to Animal statute, “maliciously” is defined as a state of mind characterized by actual evil-mindedness or a specific intent to do a harmful act without a reasonable justification or excuse.)