PROVO A man who police say stole his brother's 2-week-old dachshund puppy then didn't feed him for four days has been charged with burglary and theft, and prosecutors are still investigating possible animal cruelty charges.
Provo police arrested Jeffery Reed Schramm, 48, on Sept. 17 after they found the puppy in his home. They say Schramm broke into his brother's home in Provo several days before and snagged the puppy. Through word of mouth, Schramm's brother learned of the dog-napping and called police.
The puppy was a rare fawn-colored purebred that could be sold for nearly $4,500, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court.
When police arrested Schramm, they said they found the puppy in poor shape and in desperate need of food and water.
Schramm allegedly told police the animal hadn't eaten in four days because "it does not need to, it is its own man and can take care of itself," according to the affidavit.
Police returned the puppy to its owner and booked Schramm in jail. He was appointed a public defender Thursday and will appear in 4th District Court again on Monday.
Prosecutor Tim Taylor said they filed the felony burglary and misdemeanor theft charges to get the case going, but still need to talk more with police about what the puppy went through. They can amend the charges if needed.
Animal rights activists had been following this arrest, wondering if it might be the first case to be charged under Utah's new animal cruelty law, SB 297, which was signed by the governor in March and elevates animal torture from a misdemeanor to a felony.
"It would be up to the prosecutors in the case, and we haven't seen all the evidence," said Gene Baierschmidt, executive director of the Humane Society of Utah. "So it's hard to say at this point whether the new law would take effect here."
Under the law, the abuse of a cat or dog would have to be done by someone who "intentionally or knowingly caused or inflicted extreme physical pain to an animal in an especially heinous, atrocious, cruel or exceptionally depraved manner," according to the law.
"(This situation) sounds very cruel to me," Baierschmidt said. "I don't think some of the other words apply, but cruel definitely. (And) maybe there's more circumstances we don't know about."Baierschmidt said with any case of animal abuse, if they feel prosecutors don't go far enough with charges, they may talk with them and ask them to consider re-filing under the new law.