NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A Newport Coast woman was charged today with animal neglect for failing to provide care for her 7-year-old golden retriever, resulting in the dog's cancerous tumor growing to 42 pounds. Sherri Haughton, 52, Newport Coast, is charged with one misdemeanor count of animal endangerment, one misdemeanor count of failure to care for an animal, one misdemeanor count of animal abandonment, and one misdemeanor count of providing false information to an animal control officer. If convicted, the defendant faces two years in county jail. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 13, 2017, in Department H-8, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach. The time is to be determined.
On May 12, 2016, Haughton is accused of bringing a golden retriever named Henry to an animal hospital in Huntington Beach claiming that she found the dog abandoned on the sand in Newport Beach. Animal hospital staff located a tumor on Henry's right side that was approximately the size of a basketball, affecting the dog's mobility and other basic functions. The staff contacted Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) Animal Control staff and told Haughton that the dog should be dropped off at the City of Newport Beach animal shelter. The defendant is accused of refusing to transport the dog and abandoning him at the animal hospital.
NBPD Animal Control took custody of Henry and provided a veterinary assessment. The tumor on his right side was 42 pounds and malignant, severely impacting his ability to walk and function. NBPD Animal Control determined that Henry's veterinary situation required immediate treatment.
In June 2016, NBPD Animal Control coordinated surgery through donations. Since the surgery, Henry has lived with a local foster family.
NBPD investigated the circumstances of Henry's abandonment on the beach. After they released information to the public about the dog, his physical condition, and the abandonment, witnesses identified Haughton as Henry's previous owner. The defendant is accused of providing a false identity and false information to investigating NBPD officers.
At a news conference held by OCDA and NBPD Animal Control today, Supervisor Michelle Steel said of Orange County animals in need of care, “Let's not abandon them, and let's make sure they get treated and they can find another family … Please let us know, we are here to help.”
Kevin Marlin of the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also spoke at the news conference and stated in part, “We offer assistance, and there are other organizations here in Orange County that also do the same. Our website, http://orangecountyspca.org, has a resource page … you shouldn't allow your finances or other situations become a reason for neglecting animals.”
There are many resources available to pet owners who find themselves unable to provide care for their animals. These include finding a new home for the pet, bringing them to the shelter for your jurisdiction, seeking help from nonprofit organizations that supply food and medical care, and in some cases where no treatment will bring quality of life to the animal, euthanasia may be the most humane option.
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Malone of the Environmental Protection Unit is prosecuting this case.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # TBA / December 14, 2016