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Man allegedly used rat poison on neighbor’s dogs

Posted at 1:53 PM, Oct 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-25 13:54:51-04

MANSFIELD, Ohio (WJW) - The man accused of poisoning a neighbor’s dog with rat poison has officially been charged by police.

David Burrell, 69, was served Wednesday night with a summons to appear in Mansfield Municipal Court, charged with two counts of criminal damaging and two counts of injury to an animal.

Burrell is accused of intentionally poisoning Lester DeSalvo’s dogs by placing bags of rat poison over a fence that divides their properties.

Deputies discovered the open bags of poison after one of DeSalvo’s dogs, a mixed breed dog named Annie, died last week.

Another dog survived, but veterinarians confirmed the presence of rat poison in its bloodstream.

According to Richland County Deputy Stacy Dittrick, she and other deputies went to Burrell’s home on Ashland Road late Wednesday to serve him, but there was no answer at his door.

While deputies were still there, however, Burrell pulled into the driveway and confronted them with a gun in his hand.

Dittrick told WJW that the deputies took the gun away from him and will try to revoke his concealed carry permit as well.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department began its investigation last week after receiving a call from DeSalvo.

DeSalvo said he became concerned after a young mixed-breed dog he bought to keep himself company started behaving strangely.

The dog started bleeding from cuts that would not heal and then seemed to become unusually lethargic.

At the same time, he says another of his dogs named Annie started showing similar symptoms.

“I called her name and she’d be right there in a blink, and she was kind of looking like she was confused or something, no energy,” said DeSalvo, who describes the dogs as part of his family, like his kids.

“You could throw a ball until your arm got tired, and she would bring it right back to you,” he said of Annie, adding she would never have harmed anyone.

DeSalvo said he called a vet who suggested he watch them carefully over a day or so.

The next day Annie was dead.

“You could see her gasping for air, and all of a sudden foam started coming out of her mouth,” added DeSalvo, who said Annie was sitting on their front porch when “she just reared up and fell over dead. It was horrible.”

Annie’s death came about two months after DeSalvo lost another dog under strangely similar circumstances. He said his yellow labrador retriever stopped responding to their calls, had difficulty walking then suddenly died.

His other dog, Zena, has completely recovered.

According to the deputies’ initial report, the investigating officers confronted Burrell after they were called to DeSalvo’s residence and found a five-gallon bucket with bags of the same poison on Burrell’s property.

Burrell, however, repeatedly denied placing the poison over the fence.

Deputies on Wednesday night did not take him into custody. Burrell is expected to appear in Mansfield Municipal Court on Nov. 1.