Lakewood man pleads guilty to animal cruelty; beagles on the mend: Photos

Lakewood man pleads guilty to animal cruelty; beagles on the mend: Photos

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Weeks after police rescued 41 beagles living in squalor at a Waterbury Road residence, the Lakewood homeowner recently pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals.

Ernest R. Lazor, 71, also surrendered the dogs, which are currently on the mend.

“I’m in my 31st year and this is the biggest hoarding case that we ever had,” Lakewood Animal Shelter Supervisor Elaine Hearn said.

Lakewood Police Capt. Gary Stone previously told the department conducted a Dec. 19 search warrant of the home after receiving continuous barking and odor complaints.

“Conditions were very bad,” Stone said. “There was excrement and urine all over.

“It was so bad that the Lakewood Building Department will not let anyone live in the house.”

Hearn said the beagles are doing well and on the road to adoption in hopes of finding a forever home.

“We transferred most of them,” Hearn said.

“There was a rescue group which came down and took some of them but Friendship Animal Protective League in Elyria has the bulk of the beagles where they’ll be up for adoption.”

As part of the plea, the defendant surrendered ownership of the dogs to Lakewood and agreed to pay full restitution for the costs the city incurred while caring for the canines.

Lazor will enter a five-year diversion program that requires him to undergo a mental health assessment and grief counseling to address underlying causes of his behavior.

The defendant is also forbidden from possessing or having physical control or custody of any dogs during the period of diversion and must attend classes on the ethical treatment of animals.

If he violates the terms of the diversion program, the defendant faces up to 18 months incarceration.

“By resolving the case in this manner, the city was able to secure guilty pleas to serious charges, which require the defendant to pay restitution and to comply with the terms of the diversion program structured to hold the defendant accountable, to prevent future offenses by him and to deter such crimes in the community,” said Lakewood Law Director Ernie Vargo in a press release.

At the time of their rescue, the beagles were taken to the Lakewood Animal Shelter.

“It’s the most dogs we ever had at the shelter,” Hearn said.

“We have seven dog runs, so it was a challenge but I think we handled it pretty well with a lot of help from the community.”

That community included the Citizens Committee for Lakewood Animal Shelter stepping up and helping out with the unexpected situation.

Hearn said the shelter couldn’t have survived without donations of dog food, blankets, towels, bleach, laundry detergent and paper towels.

“We were not prepared to take in that number of animals,” Hearn said. “I’m just glad they weren’t Great Danes.”

Read more news from the Sun Post Herald here.

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