A Florida woman who posted a Facebook photo showing her chocolate lab’s snout bound with duct tape was the center of an Internet-led hunt as thousands attempted to track her down. Now, she has been arrested in North Carolina and charged with animal cruelty.
The dog, “Brown,” is unharmed.
Katharine F. Lemansky, 45, was charged on Monday by police in Cary, North Carolina, with one count of Class 1 Misdemeanor Cruelty to Animals over the photo, which was posted to her Facebook page last Friday alongside the caption: “This is what happens when you don’t shut up!!!”
She faces 150 days in jail and will appear in court on Dec. 14.
While Cary Police Captain Randall Rhyne condemned Lemansky’s photograph, he said the dog would remain under her care.
“Taping the dog’s muzzle shut was a terrible decision on Ms. Lemansky’s part, and charging her with animal cruelty under North Carolina law was the right thing to do,” said Cary Police Captain Randall Rhyne, according to a news release posted on the town’s website.
“At the same time, it’s important to also note that our animal control officers who physically examined both Brown and her littermate found the dogs to be very well cared for, which is why we did not and could not remove them from the owner,” he added. “The dogs are current on their shots, spayed, and microchipped. They are clean and well-nourished and appear to be comfortable in their surroundings. And there were no signs of injury to Brown’s muzzle, not even detectable hair loss.”
The photo, which was posted on the day after Thanksgiving, sparked a days-long search across three states for Lemansky, who used Facebook under the pseudonym Katie Brown. Her personal information was widely published. Photoshopped images showing Lemansky with a duct-taped mouth spread, and at least one user on 4chan called on others to send her “dick pics.”
Throughout the weekend, hundreds of people called and emailed the South Daytona Police Department, where Lemansky owns property. The search for Lemansky played out in real time on the City of South Daytona’s Facebook page, which asked people to resist “flooding our emergency phone numbers” while police worked with officials in Connecticut, where she also owns property, and North Carolina, where she was visiting when the photo was uploaded.
One petition calling for her arrest had nearly 40,000 signatures by Monday night.
Lemansky, for her part, hasn’t spoken publicly since she was arrested, though attempted to assuage those who voiced concerns after the photo began to go viral. “Dont panic everyone it was only for a minute but hasnt barked since… POINT MADE!!!”
The Internet users who first called for Lemansky’s arrest remain unsatisfied that the dog was allowed to remain in her home.
“If I lived near her I’d take it myself just wish someone that lives near by can go and snatch that dog,” one wrote. “Why aren’t the animals she has being taken away from her?? Completely ridiculous. She will do this again,” said another.
“We were heard and our point has been made,” Jessica Cole, who started the petition, wrote in an update after Lemansky was arrested. “We were recently reminded that it still occurs even in our own communities, but with the kind of support that this petition gained, we can make progress every day.”