JEFFERSON — A 49-year-old Fort Atkinson woman has been bound over for arraignment and trial June 14 at 9:30 a.m. in Jefferson County Circuit Court on a charge of felony mistreatment of a dog causing its death.
Tammy S. Flemming was charged following an incident that allegedly occurred Sept. 11, 2020 in Fort Atkinson.
According to a criminal complaint, Flemming treated a dog named Cooper in a cruel manner, resulting in his death.
The complaint stated that, on Sept. 11, Fort Atkinson Police Officer Adam Lawrence spoke with Cooper’s owner.
The woman told him that her 8-month-old dog, Cooper, was being trained at Herman’s Hangout in Fort Atkinson and that she had received a call from the dog trainer there, Flemming, who told her that Cooper had died.
The dog owner said that Flemming told her that she had pushed Cooper too far and that she messed up.
Lawrence then went to Herman’s Hangout and spoke with Flemming.
“Tammy stated that she was doing her final training for the night with Cooper at approximately 10:30 p.m.,” the complaint said. “She had Cooper on a choker chain. She stated the way she trains is by a method called, ‘release of pressure,’ which means the dog will decide how much pressure is applied to achieve compliance.”
The complaint stated that, under the method used by Flemming, it is common for a dog to yelp, or react when using a choker chain.
“That is when they know to relieve the pressure,” the complaint stated. “Cooper had been with Tammy for four weeks and had been doing very well on the choker chain. During this time, Tammy was asking Cooper to sit, but he was in a ‘power struggle’ with Tammy and had begun ‘fighting’ her by thrashing his head back and forth. This caused Tammy to continue with pressure on the chain.”
Flemming told Lawrence this was a command that Cooper had successfully demonstrated many times before.
“She attempted to give a loud verbal command to gain compliance and stop the thrashing,” according to the complaint. “This did not work and Cooper kept ‘fighting.’ Tammy noticed Cooper’s back legs became weak and she then released the chain. Tammy watched Cooper and observed he began to breathe shallow and slowly. She then began to give Cooper mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions. Tammy also thought to grab some honey. She explained some hunting dogs experience low blood sugar and honey helps. Her attempts to save Cooper were unsuccessful and Cooper died.”
Flemming told Lawrence that she did not recognize that Cooper was in trouble.
“I asked Tammy what she believed happened to Cooper,” Lawrence said in the complaint. Flemming said she believed he had an adrenalin rush and was possibly over-exerted, but she did not recognize it soon enough.
A necropsy was performed on Cooper by veterinarian Philip N. Bochsler at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. Bochsler produced a report indicating findings in the case were consistent with strangulation.
“Dr. Bochsler noted that Cooper, ‘had a band of skin redness encircling most of the neck’ which was ‘causally consistent with the presence of a tight, constricting band or ligature, such as a sliding loop of rope, cord, chain, or a pinch/choke collar,” the complaint said. “When overly tight, this loop would compress/collapse the trachea, and compress/occlude the carotid arteries and the jugular veins, resulting in strangulation.’”
Flemming is free on a $1,000 signature bond, with conditions that she not engage in any type of animal training or boarding and not care for any animal she doesn’t own.
If convicted, Flemming could face a fine of up to $10,000 and three years and six months in jail.