By James Grob, firstname.lastname@example.org
A man who recently pleaded guilty to one count of animal neglect in Nashua wants to make it clear that a dog in the case was not poisoned.
Anthony Hoffman, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of animal neglect last month in a case where the body of a dead dog was found in a freezer in a Nashua home.
Hoffman told the Press that the dog had died from a major infection in the uterus, and he provided the lab reports from the veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Ames to prove that. The reports were admitted as testimony in his court case, and signed by Chickasaw County Attorney Jennifer Schwickerath.
The report from the the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab stated the dog had died from severe pyometra and endometritis. Pyometra results from a uterine bacterial infection, often the result of hormonal changes in a dog’s reproductive tract.
Endometritis is a uterine condition that affects older, female dogs that can be fatal if left untreated. Hoffman said the dog had been pregnant before the condition developed.
Jennifer Hoffman, Anthony Hoffman’s sister, owns the property where the dog was found, and it was her dog, he said. He said she knew the dog had died, and it had been left upstairs in a box for 2-3 days. The dog’s carcass was starting to decay, which is why it was placed in the freezer.
“The dog died in June of 2017,” Hoffman said. “We were waiting for Jennifer to tell us where to bury it on the property, or if she was going to take it to the vet to get it taken care of.”
Hoffman and his sister, along with Christopher Dann, 30, of Charles City, were arrested in March after authorities said Anthony Hoffman and Dann poisoned someone else’s dog and kept the animal in a basement freezer. Additionally, authorities said Hoffman threatened to poison a child in the home.
Hoffman was initially charged with child endangerment, animal abuse, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a prescription drug and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Dann was charged with child endangerment, animal abuse, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of prescription drug and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Jennifer Hoffman was initially charged with child endangerment. All three initially entered pleas of not guilty to the charges against them.
The charge of child endangerment has since been dismissed against Jennifer Hoffman. The Chickasaw County Attorney’s Office stated the charge was dropped in “the interest of justice.”
Dann is scheduled to begin trial in the Chickasaw County courthouse in New Hampton on Oct. 24 for child endangerment, animal abuse and unlawful possession of a prescription drug. Since that case is still active, the Chickasaw County Attorney’s Office wouldn’t comment on any of the cases.
“With that matter still pending, at this time we’re not going to make any comment or statements,” said Schwickerath.
Hoffman pleaded guilty to animal neglect, and all other charges against him have been dropped. He said he took the plea deal because he wanted to put the whole episode behind him.
“I took the deal because I am waiting to be put on disability with SSI, and if you have any of those kinds of drug charges against you, I was told, they can stop the disability payment,” he said.
Hoffman said he has multiple sclerosis, and said that since he has MS there’s no way he could be abusing meth and other drugs, because he would be dead if he did.
He also said the prescription medication found at the scene belonged to his sister, not him, although he also takes various medications for MS, as well as medication for diabetes, high blood pressure and other medical conditions.
Hoffman spent several weeks in jail after the arrest.
A 9-year old child in the home was taken to Allen Hospital Child Protection Center for an interview shortly after the arrests. During the interview, the child allegedly stated Anthony Hoffman, his uncle, admitted to poisoning a dog and threatened to put the same poison in the child’s milk, because he should “feel the same way the dog feels.”
Hoffman flatly denied ever saying anything like that to the child. He said his nephew is seeing a behavioral therapist for “story telling and other issues.”
According to the initial police report, on Wednesday, March 7, Nashua police were called to the home at 421 Wentling Street in Nashua for a domestic dispute. Once police arrived, someone on the scene mentioned that the homeowner’s dog was missing under unusual circumstances, and its body may be in the basement freezer.
According to the report, police later obtained a search warrant for the home and discovered that there was a deceased canine in the freezer. Police also allegedly found methamphetamine and prescription drugs in the house.
Laboratory tests by the DCI Criminal Lab allegedly show that residue found at the scene tested positive for methamphetamine.
Hoffman said that the meth residue was not found at the scene at the time, but brought to the police later when he was already in jail. He said he told the police that he would take a blood test to prove he hadn’t used illegal drugs, although a test was never given.
A second canine was taken from the home during the search and a substance believed to be rat poison was found in a kennel. That dog, which belongs to Hoffman, was taken to a nearby animal shelter, then later was returned to Hoffman.
Hoffman said the kennel had only been used to transport that dog six years ago, and hadn’t been used to house a dog since. Among other discarded items there was some mouse poison in the kennel. Hoffman said the kennel was shut tight so the dog could not get inside.
He said he still has that dog, which is registered in his mother’s name in Charles City.
Hoffman said he had been staying in Charles City in February and had just begun the process of moving out of the house when the incident happened. Jennifer Hoffman, Dann and the child were living at the house.
He was not at the house when Nashua police arrived on March 7. He said he received a phone call at his mother’s house in Charles City from Nashua police that evening at about 10:30, to tell him there was a report of illegal firearms at the house, and the police wanted a key to the room he was keeping his stuff in.
Police searched that room for several hours, then returned with a warrant on March 8 and searched the house completely. There is nothing about an illegal firearm in the initial police report, and Hoffman said a firearm was never found.