Animal cruelty

Jessie Woodruff, who pleaded guilty to starving his dog in 2011, appears in Superior Court on July 3. 

Roger Werth / The Daily News

A Longview man described by authorities as “borderline mentally retarded” will spend 90 days in jail or under house arrest for allowing his 5-year-old dog to starve to death in his back yard last year.

Jessie Howard Woodruff, 30, pleaded guilty June 21 to first-degree animal cruelty between Aug. 25, 2010, and Sept. 7, 2011.

Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning called the death of “Lil Miss,” Woodruff’s golden retriever mix, a “real unfortunate result” and sentenced Woodruff to 90 days confinement.

“You are prohibited from ever owning a pet,” Warning told him during an afternoon hearing.

Woodruff said nothing. He wore colorful pajama pants and a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt to court. His nearly shoulder-length brown hair was slicked back, and he sported a wild, bushy beard.

Deputy prosecutor Jason Laurine said Woodruff is “borderline mentally retarded,” which made it impossible for him to care for an animal. Prosecutors and Humane Society officials didn’t learn of Woodruff’s disabilities until after the animal cruelty charge was filed, Laurine said.

Woodruff will not spend his sentence in the Cowlitz County Jail because he had a kidney transplant as a teenager and requires dialysis three times a week. The local jail cannot accommodate an inmate who leaves for regular doctor’s visits, so authorities are searching for another option, Laurine said.

Laurine said Woodruff either will be sent to a facility in another county that handles inmates with similar medical problems or spend the 90 days under house arrest through Cowlitz County’s electronic home monitoring program. Home-monitored inmates must wear ankle bracelets that track their movements.

Either way, Woodruff has been ordered to report to the Cowlitz County Jail on July 20.

The case dates back to the winter of 2010, when Humane Society officials got a report of three starving dogs at 336 16th Ave., Longview. Woodruff’s roommate handed two of the dogs over to the Humane Society, but Woodruff insisted on keeping Lil Miss, Animal Control Supervisor Mike Nicholson said.

Nicholson said he ordered Woodruff to get the dog licensed and make sure she was up to date on her shots. Woodruff complied and, as of last summer, Lil Miss seemed to be putting on weight and her health was improving.

But then the dog, who spent her days tied to a tree, died in September. Her body was visibly malnourished and an autopsy showed she died of starvation or an untreated medical condition, according to authorities.

Nicholson, who has described Lil Miss as “a beautiful dog ... a wonderful dog,” said Tuesday that he was satisfied with Woodruff’s jail sentence.

“Lil Miss can rest in peace,” he said.

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