CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The North Charleston man accused of abusing Caitlyn the dog has pleaded guilty on charges in connection to the incident.
William Leonard Dodson, 42, pleaded guilty on Monday to a felony charge of ill treatment of an animal for taping Catilyn's muzzle in May of 2015. Dodson faces 180 days to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
Dodson is also facing a federal gun charge which was not addressed.
According to the Charleston Animal Society, on May 27, 2015, Caitlyn was found in North Charleston with her muzzle clamped so tightly with electrical tape that her tongue had turned black.
"Pictures of her swollen muzzle went viral, and her story of survival drew worldwide attention and raised awareness of animal cruelty," CAS officials said.
"Her story is inspiring to so many people for so many different reasons," said Charleston Animal Society Director of Community Engagement Kay Hyman. "It's important to remember that a number of studies have a drawn a link between the abuse of animals and violence against people. We need to all find solutions to stop this cycle."
A statement by CAS states Caitlyn continues to recover from anxiety and stress she developed after the trauma she endured at the hands of Dodson.
"She is currently living with a loving foster family and will remain in foster care with Charleston Animal Society," CAS officials said.
"Our number one priority is Caitlyn's health and well-being and we are attending to special needs she has and will continue to do so," said Charleston Animal Society CEO Joe Elmore.
"Today's plea shows progress, but cruelty laws in South Carolina still lag behind the rest of the country and are in great need of improvement," said Charleston Animal Society Director of Anti-Cruelty and Outreach Aldwin Roman. "We are committed to working with lawmakers, police and prosecutors to make sure justice is done for all animals who are abused like Caitlyn."
The Charleston Animal Society also released the following statement:
Caitlyn's story has been told on Facebook, CNN, BBC, People Magazine and other media outlets around the world. The hashtag #IamCaitlyn came to represent millions of other abused animals around the world. In the past year, Charleston Animal Society's Anti-Cruelty Team has investigated cases across Charleston County involving dogs, cats, horses and rabbits. Charleston Animal Society also assisted in cruelty cases around the country, spearheaded by the ASPCA.