US woman charged after social media backlash over dog's taped muzzle

Katharine Lemansky posted a photo of her dog with its muzzle taped shut.
Katharine Lemansky posted a photo of her dog with its muzzle taped shut.FACEBOOK

WINSTON-SALEM, Noth Carolina (REUTERS) - A woman who sparked an international furor online after posting a photo on Facebook last week of her dog with its mouth duct-taped shut has been charged with animal cruelty in North Carolina, police said.

But Katharine Lemansky, 45, will be allowed to keep the chocolate lab-mix named Brown after the authorities in Cary, North Carolina, said they had found no signs of injury or detectable hair loss on the dog's muzzle.

"Taping the dog's muzzle shut was a terrible decision on Ms Lemansky's part," Cary Police captain Randall Rhyne said in a statement on Monday (Nov 30).

"At the same time, it's important to also note that our animal control officers who physically examined both Brown and her littermate found the dogs to be very well cared for, which is why we did not and could not remove them from the owner."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) urged North Carolina officials on Tuesday to remove the dogs from Lemansky’s care and to ban her from future pet ownership if she is convicted.

Concern for the dog spread rapidly after its photo was posted online on Friday along with the caption: "This is what happens when you don't shut up!!!"

Police departments in Florida and Connecticut, two states where Lemansky was believed to have ties, said their communication systems were inundated with phone calls and e-mails from around the world about the case.

Police officers in South Daytona, Florida, tracked Lemansky to North Carolina, where she admitted the taping incident had taken place, officials said.

Lemansky, whose Facebook page lists her as Katie Brown, faces a fine and up to 150 days in jail for the misdemeanour charge.

Mr Rhyne said in his statement that both of the dogs in her care were clean, well-nourished, microchipped and current on their shots.