Prosecutors: Woman Moves, Leaves Chained-Up Dog Behind

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Cleveland woman changed her plea in the middle of a trial on animal abuse-related charges on Wednesday.

Tamara Johnson, 35, was facing abandoning animals, neglect and cruelty charges after a dog was found chained up and emaciated at her former home in Cleveland. She had previously entered a not guilty plea, but it was changed to no contest in court.

Prosecutors said Johnson left her dog behind when she moved last May. The female mixed breed, named Artemis, was found chained outside two months later on a hot day.

“She had fly bites on her ears, she had some scarring from basically being left outside, and the flies allowed to cause damage to the skin,” said Julie Konopinski from the animal rescue group Friends of the Cleveland Kennel.

“There was no food, no water,” said animal control officer Tony Brand. “There was, like, grass or something growing in the water bowl, and the dog was real skinny.”

Prior to changing her plea midway through the proceeding, Johnson’s case marked the first time an abandonment trial was held in Cleveland.

As part of her plea deal, prosecutors dropped the neglect charge, but the two other misdemeanor charges remained.

She’ll be sentenced on Jan.29 when her attorney said he’ll address the court.

“We look forward to the 29th and to that mitigation because Tamara Johnson is essentially not the type of person the city was painting her to be,” said Michael Heffernan.

Johnson is facing up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for each misdemeanor charge.

The chief animal control officer said this happens more often than people think.

“This past year, we’ve impounded 143 dogs that were abandoned,” said Chief John Baird. “That means they were left in empty houses or tied up in backyards, and people just left. There’s avenues for you to take these dogs than just leave them.”


  • Jami Irwin

    This is why we need stiffer laws when it comes to animal cruelty! Poor dog!! Wonder how she would feel being left and chained without water and food? Upsetting to hear stories like this! It angers me to…. Full punishment is not enough!

  • Rick

    I wonder why she simply did not take the dog, who had done nothing wrong, to the APL and give it a fighting chance.. She ought to be chained up outside for two months.

    • Judy

      I agree with you Rick … lets chain her up for 180 days with no food or water … what a SCUM BAG!!! Shame on her … she’s a disgrace to society

  • Heather Shaw

    I hope she burns in HELL for what she did to that poor dog! She is the lowest kind of scum, and doesn’t deserve to be treated with any kind of respect or care.

  • phil mccracken

    Some people do not deserve to live. Any person that could intentionally harm a helpless animal should suffer a worse fate. People make choices, animals suffer.

  • Brenda

    She left her dog to die. If she’s not the type of person “the city was painting her to be,” exactly what kind of person was she? Is she going to use some tired mental health excuse?

  • Pamela Grignon

    Artemis was hospitalized at West Park Animal Hospital shortly after she was taken to the city kennel. I work there as a vet tech & I’ll tell ya, she was loved by every single one of us. She was loved on, fed good, had a soft & comfy bed to lay on, & was given a life she never had. We nursed her back to health, but ultimately she was found out to have cancer & we humanely euthanized her after that discovery. She did, however, live with a foster who, for 4 days, gave her everything she needed & wanted. This was right before her euthanasia. We miss her dearly, but seeing her previous owner in court & getting justice for what she did to our sweet, old Artemis makes us happy. If you see any acts of animal neglect, cruelty, etc. please contact your local authorities & speak up for those who can’t.

  • Mo

    This is so lame — really — really she is not the type of person Michael Heffernan– she did do this. Judges get some guts — we see this time and time again–pathetic sentences when people are clearly guilty. Can you imagine how this animal suffered– she couldn’t even just let it lose or take it to the shelter. The day after day of suffering this chained animal endured is horrific. We can already see that the sentencing will be a slap on the wrist and then people will not be deterred to do it again.

  • Christi

    At least she will have food in jail.. I think she should be starved just like this dog was.. Very sad! I am so thankful something is finally being done to these ppl who think it is ok to just harm or abandon animals

  • audrey

    this beautiful dog was left chained to a dog house in the heat of summer with no food or water – what kind of person are you ms johnson – oh i know a heartless one – i hope you don’t have children

  • marie

    What this world comming to, she should have got longer than 180 day, the courts should have given a better example and not let her get off so easly .

    • Lisa Helt

      I had tears falling the whole time I watched this video and snuggled my girls as they were so close wanting to know why there mama was sad, I hope they throw the book at this evil person, who does this to a beautiful dog, rest in peace baby girl! If I would have seen this, I would have taken you in with my 3 girls myself!

    • Judy

      @Audrey … that was a beautiful video for what everyone did for Artemis … I felt so bad though because Artemis had to be put down … shame on the owner for doing what she did to Artemis!!! The Judge needs to slap her with a good fine and lots and lots of jail time … this is a crime. I hope she doesn’t have children, because if she does, she probably treats them the same way!!! Shame on her and shame on the court system is they don’t serve justice on this one. If you can’t take care of a pet, you should not have one … Dogs are not meant to be tied up all their life outside … they should be in your house, loved and part of the family. I cried when I saw the video, but the people that did take care of her — GOD BLESS THEM … they are angels here on earth. Everyone will miss Artemis and she did not deserve what her owner did to her. I hope she gets it good in court.

  • Debbie Waters

    Excuse me, her lawyer said she’s not the type of person the city Peantert to be? No she’s much, much worse. It should be protested that the fines and mere 180 days in jail is not enough even if they give her the maximum of both of those. She couldn’t even have the decency to turn it into the pound or the Humane Society? She leaves a dog tied up to where can’t even get away to go fend for itself! She is a prime example of what is wrong with this world. She should be locked in jail for what would be estimated to be the remainder life expectancy of that dog, as well as a court ordered large donation, instead of a fine, to an animal rescue source. Also add a year of community service working in a shelter as part of a probation period. That dog had a life,had feelings and had a soul. If this is a God-fearing woman, she should really be scared now.

  • sue zahniser

    Does anyone know how Artemis could have been left with no one seeing or hearing her for 2 whole months? This is the most disturbing story I have heard and I can’t quit thinking about this dog. God bless everyone who showed her love in her final days.

    • Judy

      I agree … you would think that the neighbors would have seen this way before that amount of time … shame on the neighbors. They stick their noses in other things. How could someone NOT see that this poor dog was alone all this time? Shame on all the neighbors around also for letting this happen. You all should be punished!!!

  • Gma sugar cube

    I think more than just she are guilty. Did she have neighbors. I’m sure they would have heard the dog or at least seen it and im sure they knew she moved. Y didn’t someone within the first couple or few days call APL?

  • Kim mccutchin

    Throw the book at her..give her the max!! That dog didn’t deserve that. She didn’t care about the dog.

  • Linda

    Unfortunately she will get 3 meals a day and plenty to drink every day she serves in jail AT OUR EXPENSE!! We always adopt our animals and I’m sure that dog would have been adopted in a heartbeat had that monster just given that poor dog a decent chance at a good life, cancer or no cancer! I hope that judge gives her the maximum penalty!!

  • Janice Davidson

    Heartless and no doubt that owner probably made a lot of money off the puppies Artemis had No telling what happened to them. Looked like a great dog after she got into good hands.

  • anita

    GOD forgive me for this one but…May this woman be diagnosed with a non curable cancer and suffer till the day she dies. At least she would be in pain and left to suffer till the end. God please understand and forgive me for this one. I’m not a cruel person but …….seriously !

  • tina

    Its 8 below in cleveland right now lets chain this dum broad up outside and let her suffer like the dog did. You stupid wench.

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