Monday, April 15

Condition Of Rescued Poodles Leads To Felony Animal Cruelty Charges

Credit: Happy HIlls Animal Foundation

Reader Discretion Advised

This article contains images some readers may find upsetting or disturbing.

ASHEBORO N.C. A local man is facing eight felony animal cruelty charges after Animal Control referred a case to the Sheriff’s Office about the condition of poodles picked up by Happy Hills Animal Foundation

What led to today’s charges started on March 21st 2022, when Animal Control was called out for several dogs running loose around a neighborhood in the Sophia area. Animal control officers were able to get the dogs back into a fenced area, noting that they were severely matted.

Speaking over the phone Jonathan Moody, Animal Control Manager for Randolph County said due to that heavy matting they were not able to determine if the dogs were malnourished. “At the time the shelter was full and officers didn’t want to bring the dogs in to be euthanized” said Moody. 

Animal Control Officers contacted the owner of the property who was identified as Michael Alan Meier in a press release by the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office. Meier was issued an animal cruelty notice that day and given until April 1st 2022 to have a plan in place to either get propper veterinary care or to find a new home for the dogs. 

Meier has since denied he was the owner of the dogs, but told the Sheriff’s Office that the poodles had been in his care for several months.

While it is not clear how Happy Hills and Meier got in touch with each other, on March 28th, 2022, Happy Hills contacted Meier to arrange the surrender of the dogs to the animal foundation. Moody says he was also notified about the pickup date.

Happy Hills agreed to pick the dogs up on April 2nd, 2022 to give the owner of the dogs a chance to pick them up. 

In total eight purebred standard poodles were picked up from the property on April 2nd 2022 by Happy Hills, who called it a “backyard breeding situation that had gone horribly wrong” in an email newsletter.

Credit: Happy Hills Animal Foundation

Our team arrived at the property to find eight dogs not only living in extreme conditions 24/7, but also in desperate need of veterinary care. One smaller female collapsed on the property while being led to the transport vehicles. Her limp body was carried to an awaiting crate to be rushed off for emergency care. (Sophie: was found to have a very low heart rate, low blood sugar, heavy internal parasite load, anemia, as well as suffering from extreme emaciation. dehydration and extreme coat matting. Her body weight is a mere 19 pounds. Sophie is approximately 18 months of age and for her breed should weigh between 45 and 70 pounds!

Happy Hills Animal Foundation – Email Newsletter

According to that email from Happy Hills, all the poodles that were rescued from the home were found to be “anemic, emaciated, dehydrated, have extreme coat matting, and a heavy load of internal parasites.” 

Malnourished Poodle - Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo

After getting the poodles back to the shelter and getting them cleaned up the extent of the dog’s condition became clear. According to the Sheriff’s Office after medical examinations on April 12th and April 14th, a review was completed on each dog and follow up information was given to Animal Services.

Randolph County Sheriff Greg Seabolt told Acme News in an email that he was first notified of the situation on April 15th by Happy Hills Vice President Lisa Sparks through social media. Seabolt says he reached out to Moody that day telling him the Sheriff’s Office would be able to investigate what he called a “horrible act” in an email.

Following Easter weekend, on April 18th, 2022, the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division was officially notified by Randolph County Animal Services regarding the case and a detective was assigned. Moody says he passed along the information he had, and after meeting with Happy Hills he says he passed along the medical records from the veterinarian used by Happy Hills which were available on April 25th, 2022. 

According to the Sheriff’s Office on April 26th, 2022, following a discussion with the District Attorney’s Office, warrants were issued for eight counts of felony cruelty to animals for Meier.

On April 28, 2022, Meier presented himself at the Randolph County Jail where he was served the Warrants and issued a $15,000 secured bond with a first appearance set for April 29, 2022, in Randolph County District Court. 

Michael Alan Meier

Michael Alan Meier

  • Felony cruelty to animals (8 counts)

$15,000 secured bond

The Sheriff’s Office says the incident is still under investigation and additional charges may be forthcoming.