By Ed Brock
The trial of a 23-year veteran Clayton County Animal Control officer accused of beating a dog at the animal control shelter began with testimony from the woman who claims she saw him do it.
Allen Densley, 50, of Stockbridge wore jeans, a black leather jacket and sunglasses to court on Tuesday to face the misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. First to take the stand was Robin Rawls, vice president of the Clayton County Humane Society, who testified to what she saw on Feb. 12 when she went to the shelter to check on some cats she had put on hold for adoption.
The cats, like the pit bull terrier Densley is accused of beating, were to be destroyed the next day.
"We watch for the last-chance animals, the ones scheduled to go down the next day, and we try to pull those animals," Rawls said.
Rawls said she arrived at the shelter at about 4:15 p.m., walked through the front office and entered an anteroom that led into the dog kennels.
"When I hit the anteroom is when I heard the commotion," Rawls said. "Just dogs going wild."
At first she thought it was a dog fight, which would not be unusual, but then she entered the kennel room.
"I immediately saw Mr. Densley beating a dog," Rawls said.
Rawls described and even demonstrated for the six-member jury how Densley used a combination of hits and jabs with a metal "catch pole" to beat the dog. A catch pole has a loop of rope on one end used to capture animals.
"He was clearly hitting the dog on the top of the head and back," Rawls said. "The dog was scared and the dog was crying out."
When she asked Densley what he was doing, he told her he was moving the dog, Rawls said. Then he closed the gate, put down the pole and walked away.
Rawls said she had seen the dog at the shelter previously and described him as "a really, really sweet dog." She said he was not showing any signs of attacking Densley during the incident and was cowering in the corner of the kennel.
In his cross-examination Densley's attorney, David Walker, challenged Rawls' description of events, asking Rawls if it wasn't true that she never actually saw the pole hit the dog. Rawls said that wasn't true.
Walker went on to question Rawls on whether the blood she later found in the cell could have belonged to another dog, and if the pit bull in question could have been injured by jagged edges on the kennel's chain-link fencing.
He also questioned whether Rawls had any experience with using a catch pole. Rawls said she had not used a catch pole, but said she had seen other officers use the poles.
"You've never been attacked by a dog, have you?" Walker asked.
"Yes, I have," Rawls answered.
Rawls said she checked the dog after Densley walked away and found blood on the dog and around the kennel. She notified an Animal Control employee and they took the dog to Three Counties Animal Hospital in Riverdale, where it was treated for injuries to its head and face. It was later adopted.
During the police investigation Densley denied beating the dog but resigned later that month.
The trial is expected to resume today.