Circle Drive man charged after allegedly locking dogs in to die

Contributed photo In custody... As of Thursday morning, Andrew Cottle, 44, of Circle Drive in Princeton, was still listed as being held on $20,000 cash or surety bond as a pre-trial felon at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.

MATOAKA — A Mercer County man has been charged with four counts of animal cruelty after allegedly abandoning a home and four live dogs for weeks, leaving them inside to starve.

According to a criminal complaint on file at the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department office this week, Detective L.L. Addair found claw marks and holes in the furniture and door, where the dying dogs apparently attempted to escape their fates as they perished inside the locked Circle Drive home.

The crime traced its origin back to June 18, when the complainant’s mother reportedly passed away. The complainant told officers she received notice on June 20 that she needed to assume possession of her mother’s home and dogs. The daughter alleged law enforcement officers were notified, and both parties were advised of the eviction process.

Instead of leaving the home, unknown to the complainant, the mother’s husband allegedly changed the locks and abandoned the residence, leaving the dogs behind, denying the complainant access to the animals and prohibiting the complainant a way to provide the animals proper sustenance.

According to Addair’s report, these acts allegedly led to the animals’ starvation until they perished at an unknown date.

Animal Control officers followed up with the complaint by looking through the windows of the residence, where they reported seeing two deceased dogs within the home.

Addair then obtained a search warrant, and upon arrival at the residence at 103 Circle Dr., reported seeing the doorknob was unlocked but that the door was locked from the inside. While accompanied by Animal Control officers and a veterinarian technician, entry was made to the home, and four of the five dogs were found dead and decomposing. One dog was found in the living room, and three were found in the bathroom in the floor. Claw marks and holes from bites were reportedly observed to the bottom of the living room door and furniture.

A neighbor reported she asked the husband about the dogs after the death of his wife, and she allegedly confronted him about not letting the dogs outside to use the bathroom, at which time, he allegedly told her that they had puppy pads and would be fine.

Adair reported, “She questioned him again when she noticed that she could not longer hear the dogs, and Mr. Cottle told her that he got rid of them. She advised that at one point, she even gave him a large bag of dog food, but knows that he also has a pit bull of his own.”

The neighbor offered directions to Cottle’s location, which allowed officers to trace his location to question him. After finding him there, Cottle alleged he left the residence and thought the daughter/complainant was going to feed the dogs. He did not have a response when confronted about locking the residence from the inside. He advised he was trying to get rid of the dogs when he left the house and hadn’t been back to the residence for two weeks.

Andrew Cottle, 44, of Mercer County, was arrested on charges of animal cruelty and transported to Mercer County Sheriff’s Department for processing.

— Contact Tammie Toler at ttoler@ptonline.net

Editor's Note: This original story has been edited to change the address in which the alleged animal abuse took place. The initial report indicated the reported crime took place in Princeton, but the investigating officer confirmed Friday afternoon that the probe actually took place on Circle Drive in Matoaka. Therefore, the story has been edited to reflect that error. All other information remains the same.