Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Abuser of ‘Thunder the Wonder Dog’ Pleads No Contest; Sentencing Hearing Awaits


The following statement was issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office on their Facebook Page:

Rather than go forward with her demand for a jury trial that was scheduled to begin tomorrow, Tuesday, October 6th, defendant Katie Rhiannon Smith, age 34, of Caspar, instead entered an open plea of no contest Monday morning to having committed felony animal abuse in December 2019 against a dog now widely-known as ‘Thunder the Wonder Dog: the Cone Dog from the Woods.’

As charged by the District Attorney, the felony conduct that the defendant admitted having committed was that she maliciously and intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, or wounded a living animal, to wit, Thunder.

By statute, the maximum sentence that the sentencing judge may impose in this matter is a prison sentence of up to 36 months in the Realignment local prison (Low Gap) and a fine of up to $20,000.

The defendant was ordered to return to the Fort Bragg courtroom on December 2, 2020 at 9 o’clock in the morning for the formal sentencing hearing.

As used herein, an “open” plea means no promises were made by the prosecution as to what sentence the defendant will ultimately receive as her sanction.

As used herein, a “no contest” plea to a felony is the same as a guilty plea for all purposes.

‘Thunder the Wonder Dog: the Cone Dog from the Woods’ was an injured and abused canine found wandering in a Mendocino coastal forest in December 2019 and rescued by concerned citizens. See, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/…/wonder-dog-found…/… .

It was later determined by the veterinarian that Thunder was suffering from gunshot wounds, dehydration and malnutrition.

Any interested member of the community who would like to weigh in on this matter, make respectful comment, and/or urge a particular outcome may send a letter no later than November 18th to:

Mendocino County Adult Probation Department
Re: Thunder The Wonder Dog
700 S. Franklin, Rm 107,
Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Likewise, any community member interested in the outcome of this case is welcome to attend the sentencing hearing on December 2nd at the courthouse at 700 S. Franklin Street in Fort Bragg.

Facial coverings and social distancing will be required for all attending the December 2nd sentencing hearing.

The law enforcement agencies that investigated this crime were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Mendocino County Animal Control, and the District Attorney’s own investigators.

Great care and assistance was provided by the Mendocino Coast Humane Society and their medical staff, particularly Dr. Bartholomew.

This case was originally reviewed and charged by District Attorney Eyster. The assigned prosecutor is Deputy District Attorney Josh Rosenfeld.

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  1. Unbelievable that people such as this can live with society. It starts with animals and then unto people and children. This is a warning to deter this person before it escalates and it is too late for their next victim.

  2. This case makes me sick! I will never understand how anyone could be so cruel to Thunder or any animal.She deserves the maximum sentence and fine. Do not use COVID as an excuse for no jail time!

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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