Police officer accused of starving K-9
By John Estridge, Editor
A former reserve Laurel Police officer is accused of starving his K-9 partner to death.
Clint Ellis has been charged with Striking or interfering with a law enforcement animal, as a Level 6 Felony; and Cruelty to an animal, as a class A misdemeanor. Ellis is already charged with two counts of felony Theft and one count of Official Misconduct, also a felony, where he is alleged to have stolen items from the evidence lockers at the Laurel Police Department.
A jury trial in that case is scheduled for Nov. 19 in Franklin Circuit Court before Judge J. Steven Cox.
He is also charged with Harassment of hunters, as a class C misdemeanor. A bench trial has been set for Aug. 8 on that charge. It is also before Cox.
According to an Affidavit for Probable Cause written by Conservation Officer Corey Norrod, Ellis and Blade came together in August 2017 after another K-9 retired.
Apparently, Blade, 3, died New Year's Day.
Norrod was contacted by the Indiana State Police on Jan. 17, asking Norrod to investigate Blade's death.
Between the purchase of the dog in Aug. 2017 through Blade's death on New Year's Day, Blade lived with Ellis, and Ellis was Blade's primary caregiver, it stated.
One witness interviewed by Norrod said between October 2017 and early December 2017, the dog lost around 30 pounds.
Another witness who had been to the Ellis home said Blade had lost a significant amount of weight, was not being taken out regularly and was left to wallow in his cage among his urine and feces.
Two reserve police officers, Joey Ailes and Brandon Blades, who worked with Ellis at a regular job, went to the Ellis' home on the morning of Jan. 1 to pick up Ellis and go to a job site. Each of the reserve officers said they saw Blade dead in the dog's cage lying among his own feces.
Ailes urged Ellis to contact a veterinarian, but Ellis told Ailes he (Ellis) would take care of it later. Several days later Ellis told Blades Ellis had not yet buried Blade and asked Blades to handle that for Ellis. Blades went to the Ellis' home in Laurel and found Blade wrapped in a black garbage bag. Ellis tried to dispose of the body by throwing Blade, still in the garbage bag, into a Dumpster.
However, after a time, he got the garbage bag out of the Dumpster and put the bag and Blade's body in Blades' vehicle. Blades and Ellis placed the bag, containing Blade's body, in the barn of Blades' grandfather's property.
Ailes told Norrod in December 2017, Laurel Town Marshal Bradley Spurlock confronted Ellis about Blade's condition with Spurlock ordering Ellis to take Blade to the vet because of the dog's deteriorating condition. Spurlock confirmed that when Norrod questioned Spurlock.
On Feb. 11, Norrod questioned Ellis.
Ellis said on New Year's Day, Ellis attempted to contacted Dr. Keaffaber, a veterinarian in Connersville, but was unable to reach the veterinarian. Ellis said he was unable to bury Blade due to the frozen ground. Ellis also said Blade looked the same on the day of his death as he did when Ellis received the dog in August 2017. Ellis also said Blade was eating normally although he was not gaining weight.
Norrod also interviewed Keaffabur. The veterinarian said there was no record of Ellis' call on New Year's Day regarding Blade.
Norrod delivered Blade's carcass to the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University on Jan. 26. A necropsy was performed to determine the cause of death.
Dr. Yava Jones, a pathologist at the laboratory, penned the report from the necropsy, and Norrod received the report on Feb. 8.
She listed the cause of death as “intestinal foreign bodies” and “whole body emaciation.”
Norrod said he then interviewed Jones personally.
Jones said she could not specifically comment on starvation; however, “she did not see any reason such as cancer or infection that would inhibit Blade's ability to absorb nutrients.”
A study of the bone marrow fat from Blade's femur bone showed the bone marrow fat at 8.09 percent. Normal range is 65-98 percent.
“A bone marrow fat analysis below 10 percent is considered incompatible with life,” Jones said in her report.
In the necropsy report, Jones described Blade's body condition as: “The dog is in poor body condition with prominent ribs and bony protuberances.”
At the time of the necropsy, Blade weighed 11.8 kg or around 26 pounds. Blade was a shepherd-type dog. According to animalso.com, the average weight for a German shepherd adult male is between 66-88 pounds.
Jones explained to Norrod the foreign materials found in Blade's stomach were two pieces of cloth-like material. One was 34 cm in length and was lodged and partially obstructing the intestinal lumen. Lumen is defined as an interior space.
The other piece was 22 cm. She stated the intestines contained pale green, pasty fecal material.
When questioned by Norrod, Jones said if the foreign body caused Blade's death, “it would have been an acute situation, meaning that it would have killed him relatively quickly and the amount of emaciation in Blade's body would have taken some time to achieve.”
However, because of the foreign bodies in the stomach, she said “it would be speculative to say why it died at the time it happened.”
When questioned, Ellis said he was unaware how a foreign body would be found in Blade's intestinal tract. Ellis “claimed to feed him on a regular basis.”
If convicted of a Level 6 Felony, Ellis could receive six months to two-and-a-half years in prison. A class A misdemeanor conviction brings with it a sentence of up to one year in prison.