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Wadsworth woman abandons ailing dog at Walmart

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WADSWORTH— A local woman is scheduled to appear for sentencing Wednesday in Wadsworth Municipal Court next week after abandoning her elderly dog at Walmart last November.

Rita L. Swartz, 52, 100 block Terraceview Ave., pleaded guilty last month to one misdemeanor count of abandoning animals after leaving her 15-year-old pug Agnes in the store’s parking lot on Nov. 29.

“We received a call from a couple of shoppers who were at Walmart and they had found the dog in a box near the clothing donation box in the Walmart parking lot,” Wadsworth police Lt. Dave Dorland said Wednesday.

Dorland said police called the Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which took custody of the dog.

“The dog did not appear to be in distress or have any physical condition as a result of being out in the weather,” Dorland said.

According to the National Weather Service, the morning started at around 25 degrees and climbed to 33 degrees as a high for the day.

The pug suffers from chronic medical conditions related to her hearing and eyes, a factor in Swartz abandoning her dog, Dorland said.

“She was aware that the dog had some issues with her hearing and her sight and because of her income she did not have the ability to care for the dog,” he said.

Police said Swartz confessed to abandoning the dog. She said she had reached out to multiple animal shelters in Medina, Summit and Wayne counties, but she was told a fee would apply if they took custody of the dog, Dorland said.

Dorland said after the Medina County SPCA took custody of the dog, a Facebook post was made seeking information about the previous owner.

“That is how we received some tips as to who the previous owner was,” Dorland said.

Dorland said Swartz told police she left her dog at Walmart because as a high-traffic area, she was confident that someone would discover the pug before anything bad happened to her.

“She said that she drove a short distance away and remained in the area and watched until she saw somebody pull up and she was certain that somebody had found the dog,” Dorland said.

The Medina County SPCA took custody of the dog within hours of Swartz leaving it at the store.

The SPCA’S original post highlighting Agnes’ plight was shared more than 4,000 times and received more than 1,400 comments on Facebook.

A Jan. 5 post on the Medina County SPCA Facebook page offered a happy update about Agnes.

“Agnes’ owner reports that she’s doing well,” the post read with a photo of the canine from a recent visit.”

She has her own ‘safe zone’ in the house (because she’s deaf and blind) where she knows where everything is and is at no risk for tripping over or bumping into anything. … She does require daily medication and a fair amount of care, so we’re very glad that she landed in such a wonderful, loving home.”

Swartz is scheduled to appear before Wadsworth Municipal Court Judge Stephen B. Mcllvaine at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday for sentencing.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, the second-degree misdemeanor carries a possible penalty of up to 90 days in jail and up to a $750 fine.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.
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