A man charged with felony animal cruelty wept openly in a Martinez courtroom Thursday afternoon as he reluctantly agreed to let authorities put seven of his dogs up for adoption, rather than risk having them euthanized due to overcrowding at the shelter while his case is adjudicated.
Jeremiah Weberling, 43, was arrested by the Concord Police Department May 3 after officers allegedly found 10 brindle pitbulls inside his trailer parked on the street in the vicinity of Dover Way and Gary Drive.
One was already dead. Two more had to be euthanized. The dogs that survived all required veterinary attention.
According to defense attorney Julian Ross, with the Contra Costa County Office of the Public Defender, Weberling cares deeply for the dogs in question and believed he was providing adequately for them, but suffers from underlying mental health problems that may be responsible for their state of distress.
Sgt. Craig Hall, with Contra Costa County Animal Services, testified that he was overwhelmed by the scent of urine and feces as he entered the trailer. It was too hot inside, and though he could hear a dog barking and at least one of them whimpering, there was allegedly no food or water accessible to any of them.
"The inside of the trailer was packed with objects," Hall said.
"There was no physical way for me to get to the dogs."
As the trailer was cleared out, nearly a dozen dogs were located, and apparently most of them were confined to crates filled with urine and fecal matter.
Several allegedly had open, bleeding wounds and one dog, after being taken outside, began to urinate what appeared to be blood.
Jason Dombrosky, a veterinarian, later testified that was a symptom of heat stroke.
"It looked, from the onset, that they were suffering from heat stroke," Dombrosky said, when asked about the condition of the dogs when they were brought to his office.
All of the dogs apparently showed signs of dehydration.
"Did that have a detrimental effect on the dogs?" said Deputy District Attorney Jack McMahon.
"Absolutely," Dombrosky said. "Without question."
In addition to the dog that was euthanized that night, Dombrosky feared that two more might have to be put down. One of them pulled through, however.
Weberling's preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume Friday morning in the courtroom of Judge Anita Santos at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward St., Martinez.