AKRON, Ohio - Appearing in Akron Municipal Court on Wednesday, Markee Turner, 28, voluntarily surrendered ownership of two dogs to the Summit County Humane Society. He is facing two first degree misdemeanor charges of animal abuse and neglect and two second degree misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals.
The court telling Fox 8 News that Turner rejected an attempt to resolve the case without going to trial.
Turner was arrested after police responded to a Tampa Avenue home earlier this month on an animal abuse complaint.
Records show they found two dogs padlocked in a garage.
The officers report says "there was no food or water for the animals. Both of the dogs appeared to be pit bulls, emaciated, with scars on their faces and body."
The report also describes the garage as having no ventilation on a day when the temperature was in the 80s.
"Inside the property, down in the basement was, what appeared to be a dog fighting arena," the officers wrote in their report.
Turner earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Fox 8 was not able to speak with him about the accusations on Wednesday..
In surrendering ownership of the animals to the Humane Society he explained to the court that he could not afford paying the cost of keeping them there.
"They are charging me $20 dollars a day for each animal. It's already been about a week and a half, two weeks, I can't afford that," said Turner.
Demonstrators outside the courthouse on Wednesday hoped to get the court's attention.
Activists want the courts to treat cases involving animal abuse seriously.
"I'm hoping he gets the max. I mean you can't just go around and hurt animals," said Britney Adkins.
"That's why we need Goddard's Law, with a mandatory automatic felony charge," said Elinor Israel.
House Bill 60, also known as Goddard's law is named after Fox 8 meteorologist Dick Goddard.
It would make it a fifth-degree felony to knowingly cause serious physical harm to a companion animal. That includes depriving a pet of food, water or shelter, or inflicting long-term pain.
The bill was overwhelmingly passed in the Ohio House of Representatives in June and now awaits passage in the Senate before going to the Governor for his signature.
In the meantime the Summit County Humane Society will be examining and testing the dogs confiscated from Turner to see if they can be adopted.
"Our hope is they will find a loving home where they will get the safety and security they deserve," said Humane Society President Diane Johnson.