Conway man accused of starving dogs requests jury trial

Sasha was seized by the Animal Control Center after they say she weighed about half as much as she's supposed to when seized by officers.

"She's crooked. That lady in there is crooked," said Cleveland Fladger Jr. as he left Conway City Hall.

The woman Fladger accused of being crooked is Misty Alessi, the Animal Control officer who seized the two dogs, Sasha and Butch, from his home. Sasha, a yellow lab, and Butch, a pit bull mix, were brought into the shelter together. They were severely malnourished.

Fladger was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty on February 10.

Wednesday, he requested and was granted a jury trial in front of Conway Magistrate Judge Andy Hendrick.

"We were going to ask today that if he could not pay the fine and reimbursement charges to the Animal Care Center that Fladger spend 30 days in jail," says Alessi. "But now with a jury trial, some things may change."

Alessi still wants two other dogs in the custody of Fladger taken to the Horry County Animal Care Center. The two dogs are not as malnourished as Sasha and Butch, but Alessi doesn't want the other dogs to suffer the same fate.

Fladger accused Animal Control of trespassing when checking on the two dogs still at his home. However, the judge quickly denounced Fladger's pleas because of the diminished shape the two dogs already taken from his home were in.

"Sasha was at death's door," said Horry County Animal Care Operations Manager Kelly Bonome. She attended court Wednesday to testify against Fladger, but will now have to wait until a jury can hear Fladger's case.

"We understand it's his right to due process," says Bonome. "The only thing that will change now is the restitution amount he will have to pay to the center."

Right now, the center has paid more than $650 in care for Sasha and Butch.

"It's going to cost five dollars a day plus any other fees that come along, like the heart worm treatment we'll be starting for them in a few weeks."

Bonome says Sasha and Butch are both recovering well. Sasha has gained ten pounds since arriving to the shelter and now weighs 36 pounds.

"You wouldn't recognize Sasha from before. Sometimes I have to remind myself just how bad this case is by looking at the pictures from when I saw her for the first time," Bonome said.

Butch, deemed too aggressive for our cameras to see at first, is now more playful with care center workers. "He's a total 180 from last time. He's jumping up, wagging his tail. He's doing great."

Sasha and Butch will have to stay in the custody of the animal care center until Fladger's case is resolved.

Alessi says if the two dogs in Fladger's custody now are in worse shape by the time a trial is set, he could face more charges.