The Pratt County Sheriff's Office is not going to take action at this time against a Preston couple charged with alleged animal cruelty to dogs because no evidence of cruelty currently exists.
Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn, who personally visited the residence in question Thursday evening, said the dogs had food, water and shelter and his office was done with the case because no law is being broken at this time.
"As of now there is no evidence of abuse. There is none whatsoever at this point in time," Chinn said. "There's no case in my opinion."
As of press time, the dogs were still at the residence and other than charges being filed, no other action had been taken against the couple whose identities have not been released.
On Thursday, Pratt County Attorney Ken Van Blaricum filed charges in Pratt County District Court against the Preston couple steaming from evidence that goes back a month.
The pair was each charged with one count of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, Van Blaricum said.
Those charges were based on a sheriff's office report filed in December 2012. Magistrate Judge Roseanna Mathis will review the charges and determine what action will take place.
If Mathis finds animal cruelty has taken place, the couple could face a jail sentence or at least probation, she could impose a fine and the couple could pay court costs, Van Blaricum said.
The dogs could also be removed from the home and placed in the care of the Pratt Area Humane Society. The law provides that if either a licensed veterinarian or a law enforcement officer feels that animals are subject to cruelty, they can go onto private property and remove those animals, Van Blaricum said.
Depending on the judges ruling, action could eventually be taken against the couple.
However, from his observations on Thursday evening, Chinn can find no current violation of state law or city ordinance at this time.
Preston has a city ordinance that requires dogs to be chained. The dogs at the residence are chained so they are not breaking the city ordinance, Chinn said.
A photograph of the dogs in question is circulating on Facebook. Chinn has seen the picture and can find no evidence of neglect in the picture.
The picture includes trees with leaves that indicate the picture was taken in the summer so it has no relevance to the situation as it is now.
None of the dogs in the picture appear to be malnourished.
"I don't see a thin dog in the picture," Chinn said. "The picture has no value to me."
Page 2 of 2 - Someone brought the case to the attention of KWCH news in Wichita and they reported a story during their news broadcast.
When people suspect a crime is being committed they need to inform law enforcement and not the media. When people call the media before law enforcement that's the first sign he has a problem, Chinn said.