A woman has been charged with animal cruelty for allegedly posting a photo on Facebook last week showing a dog muzzled with duct tape, officials said on Monday. The social media post sparked outrage online, and went viral.
A Facebook user with an account registered to Katie Brown posted a photograph on her Facebook wall on Friday of a dog that looks like a chocolate lab with tape wrapped around its mouth and the message, "This is what happens when you dont (sic) shut up!!!"
Katharine F. Lemansky, 44, the woman believed to be behind the post, has been charged, according to a statement from the town of Cary, North Carolina, after several law enforcement agencies in three states tracked her down.
Lemansky was charged with a count of class 1 misdemeanor cruelty to animals after she allegedly admitted to police that she duct-taped her dog's mouth when she was staying in Cary, North Carolina.
She could face a fine and as many as 150 days in jail, Cary officials said. Police in Cary reached on Monday night did not know if she was being represented by an attorney.
"Taping the dog's muzzle shut was a terrible decision on Ms. Lemansky's part, and charging her with animal cruelty under North Carolina law was the right thing to do," said Cary Police Captain Randall Rhyne in a statement.
But the dog, identified as Brown, will not be taken away from Lemansky, Rhyne noted.
He said that animal control officers found nothing wrong with Brown and another dog in Lemansky's care to be "very well cared for," clean, well-nourished and comfortable – with no signs of injury from the apparent duct tape incident.
The Facebook post was shared hundreds of thousands of times between the time it went up on Friday and the time the post was pulled down on Sunday.
Police in Avon and Torrington in Connecticut, as well as South Daytona, Florida, were inundated with phone calls and emails from people concerned about the Facebook post of the dog, claiming it's animal cruelty and calling on police to do something.
South Daytona police first launched an investigation on Friday evening after the department received numerous calls about the post.
Lt. Dan Dietrich, of South Daytona police, said the woman's legal name is Katharine F. Lemansky. NBC Connecticut also went to the house, but no one answered the door.
Outrage over the post has also affected at least one business in Simsbury, Connecticut that reported being unfairly targeted with criticism over an employee's alleged association with the woman accused of posting the photo of the tape-muzzled dog.
Lemansky is due in a Wake Couty court on December 14, according to officials from the town of Cary.