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Lyle man sentenced for starving dogs

A Lyle man found guilty last November of animal cruelty for letting two dogs die of starvation, dehydration and over-exposure to the cold was sentenced Thursday to two years of probation.

Jacob Joshua McAlister, 32, who had pleaded not guilty to the two felony counts nearly a year ago, must also complete 30 days in jail and 100 hours of community service as part of his sentence. If he violates the terms of his probation, he is slated to spend another 366 days in jail.

Mower County judge Donald Rysavy issued the sentence.

The incident in question occurred over the course of the early months of 2009. According to a police report, the Lyle police chief received a call on April 2, 2009, from the Mower County Sheriff’s Office, which was looking for McAlister after discovering two dead Labrador retrievers in a kennel on the north side of a machine shed in Lyle.

The dogs — one black lab and one chocolate lab, named “Rusty” and “Johnny” — had clearly been left unattended and were covered in a large amount of feces, records show.

Police contacted Barry Rush, an agent for the Humane Society, and took photographs of the scene.

On April 3, Rush, a deputy and a veterinarian met at the scene. The dogs were believed to have been dead for a few days in the kennel. Several inches of feces covered the kennel floor, and water was frozen in buckets.

The vet determined the dogs died of starvation, dehydration and exposure to the elements sustained from Jan. 1 through March 31. The chocolate lab — which appeared to have been partially eaten by the black dog — weighed 42.5 pounds. The black lab weighed 33.1 pounds.

Rush stated in an e-mail before McAlister’s November conviction that “the fact that the county attorney held firm with two felony counts is encouraging … with continued public attention, perhaps we can, for once, get some justice for these two poor Labs.”