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Man neglects dogs to death: "It is what it is"

Tabari Hayes was sentenced to 15 months in prison for the abuse of two dogs, who died after he locked them in a motel bathroom with no means of survival. (Genevieve Grippo/KTVL)

More details have surfaced in the animal abuse case involving the deaths of two pit bulls who were locked in a bathroom at the Rogue Valley Inn.

On Tuesday, Tabari Leteef Hayes, 39, pleaded no contest to two counts of aggravated animal assault in the first degree after he was arrested for leaving the dogs locked in his motel bathroom with no means of survival.

The District Attorney's office says Hayes told officers that he did not own the dogs, but admitted to locking them up.

"They died anywhere from 10 days to 14 days after being in there," said Johan Pietila, the Deputy District Attorney in charge of prosecuting the case. "Their bodies remained in there for another two weeks until they were discovered. "

Hayes, who was evicted from the hotel after living there for several years, said the animals stopped moving and died two weeks prior to him moving out.

"He had told the officer after he was arrested that he hadn't been using that bathroom for a month," said Pietila. "He had been using the restroom outside or in other places to avoid having to open the door. The smell and the amount of decay that had taken place shows that they had been in there for some time. "

According to Pietila, painters discovered the carcasses on Sept. 21, the same day Hayes vacated the residence. Pictures of the scene revealed the small bathroom where the dogs were held was heavily littered with urine and feces. The inside of the door was scarred with scratch marks.

"Unfortunately animal abuse comes up quite a bit," said Pietila. "What we see most often is in the hot months in the summertime, people leaving their animal in the car. Unfortunately, sometimes you get these cases where there is the death of animal, and it's been cruel."

Hayes is currently serving 15 months at the Jackson County Jail in Medford. Once released, he is ordered to serve three years of parole and will be unable to own animals for five years.

The D.A.'s office says the prison sentence comes three months short of the maximum 18-month sentence this particular case could have incurred. Pietila says one of the things that contributed to the sentence are Hayes' prior convictions, including a felony domestic abuse charge.

"When I see that sort of thing, I think about the link that's been shown between animal abuse [and] domestic abuse-- people who are willing to take that next step in their criminal behavior from animals to people," said Pietila. "That's a big concern, just that same idea of control over a weaker thing."

When approached about the animal abuse case, Pietila says Hayes was hardly remorseful for his actions.

"He was pretty flippant about the whole thing, to be honest. I believe he said, 'It is what it is.'"

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