CENTREVILLE — A Centreville man will serve six months in prison for animal cruelty after starving three dogs nearly to death.

Heath Chaney Dorrell, 24, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of animal cruelty Oct. 17 in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court. In return for his plea, the Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped felony charges of aggravated animal cruelty and additional misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty for failure to provide and inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering.

A lengthy criminal investigation led by Officer Derrick Leonard from Queen Anne’s County Animal Control found that Dorrell abandoned two black Labrador retriever puppies and an adult black Labrador for approximately a month in kennels on the Pintail Point Farm property. At the time they were rescued, all three dogs showed signs of severe malnutrition and lack of proper care and were described by a witness as “walking corpses,” according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Assistant State’s Attorney Chelsea Endzel, who handled the case, called it worst case of animal abandonment she has handled as a prosecutor specializing in cases involving animal cruelty.

She said the most frustrating part of this case was the fact that there were several people at Pintail Point who were ready and able to care for the dogs had Dorrell simply asked.

Retired Judge Sidney S. Campen Jr. sentenced Dorrell to two years in prison, with 18 months suspended and six months to serve, plus an additional five years of supervised probation.

While on probation, Dorrell is barred from owning or caring for animals and will be required to repay nearly $12,000 in restitution to Anne Arundel Emergency Veterinary Clinic for their care of “Lane” and “Rip” and to the owner of the third dog, who had entrusted Dorrell with its care and training.

Other Abandonment Cases

Animal Control is still looking for the person who abandoned a 6-month-old, female Belgian Malinois off U.S. Route 301 in Millington.

That puppy was found Sept. 24, when a highway construction worker spotted it next to a crate down over the embankment beside the road. It looked as though the crate had been tossed over the side of the bank or maybe kicked from a moving vehicle, and the door was sprung — probably on its trip down the hill — enabling the pup to get out.

Animal Control Officer Meg Graven picked up the pup and took it to Animal Welfare League for a health assessment and care. The pup has since been adopted.

“We need leads. Somebody knows something — someone who had a dog who doesn’t anymore, someone who wanted to get rid of their dog,” said Assistant Chief Lori Morris, supervisor of special operations at the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services.

Three more puppies, estimated at just 6 weeks old, were found abandoned in a carrier at a county park and ride this past weekend and turned over to Animal Welfare League, which has found someone to provide foster care for them.

Anyone with information about either case is asked to call Animal Control at 410-758-2393.

The public is reminded that the Animal Welfare League shelter in Queenstown is an open-admission facility and accepts drop offs anytime of day. If it is after hours, there’s a safe place to leave unwanted pets until someone comes in the next morning.

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