Northampton Woman Pleads Guilty to Attempted Cruelty for Starving Young Dog

Chained, Skeletal Pit-Bull Mix Rescued by PETA Now Thriving in Loving Virginia Beach Home

For Immediate Release:
June 10, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Northampton County, N.C. — On June 6, Sharicka Smith—the former legal owner of Noel (formerly named Coco), a starving, emaciated dog whom PETA rescued from Smith’s Garysburg backyard in early December—pleaded guilty to attempted cruelty to animals and was sentenced to a year of supervised probation and 40 hours of community service and has been banned from owning animals for life.

During the hearing in Northampton County court, the PETA fieldworker who first encountered Noel testified that she was responding to a neighbor’s complaint about the dog’s deplorable condition. Noel was tethered to the trunk of a thorny bush, was unable to move more than 10 inches or reach the few pieces of dry dog kibble scattered on the ground, had no access to shelter or water, and was emaciated to the point that her ribs and hip bones protruded prominently (photos available here). Noel also had scabs and open sores on her ears and tail that required veterinary attention. Noel was given to PETA and taken to a veterinary hospital, where it was confirmed that her emaciation was the result of starvation.

The Virginia Beach SPCA rehabilitated Noel, whose drastic recovery—including healing the wounds on her ears and tail as well as increasing her weight from a shocking 25.4 pounds to a healthy 42.2 pounds—was described by her foster home as “truly a heartwarming Christmas miracle.” The SPCA’s youth programs director, who wound up adopting Noel, reports that the formerly shy pooch is now the “sweetest, sloppiest kiss-giving, bedtime snuggler.”

“Noel’s rescue demonstrates why reporting suspected cruelty to and neglect of animals—as Noel’s concerned neighbor did—is an essential and lifesaving act,” says PETA Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA thanks the justice system in Northampton County for taking Noel’s case seriously and taking the necessary steps to ensure that Noel’s former owner will never starve and neglect another animal.”

Photos of Noel and her former living conditions as well as with her new guardians are available upon request. For more information, please visit

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