Former Oil City man accused of animal cruelty

A former Oil City man is facing charges after his dog died of apparent starvation and was left dead in a condemned house in Oil City for about five months, according to the Venango County Sheriff’s office.

On May 1, the sheriff’s office was told about a starved, dead pit bull in an abandoned house at 615 Bissell Ave., according to a criminal complaint.

A woman said the dog belonged to Cody Whitmore, 30, who had lived in the house until it was condemned by Oil City code enforcement, the complaint said.

The woman showed a deputy numerous text messages from Whitmore and two other people discussing the death of the dog, named JJ, which was found in the upstairs of the house and pictures, including of the dead dog lying in the house, the complaint said.

Based on the text messages, the deputy secured a warrant to search the house, which he found to be abandoned and condemned “in complete disarray and … filled with garbage and clutter” in such a condition that it was not inhabitable for people or animals, the complaint said.

The deputies, the complaint said, found the dog lying in the upstairs hallway covered in a blanket. Upon examining the dog, it appeared to be emaciated.

On May 8, the deputies spoke to Whitmore at his house in Atlantic, where he told them that there was no water in the Bissell Avenue residence, the furnace had broken around Christmas and he found the dog, JJ, which was his dog, dead sometime in mid-January, the complaint said.

Whitman attributed the dog’s death to it eating cleaning chemicals, but he couldn’t prove it, the complaint said.

He said the dog had trouble gaining weight, and though he would feed it, the dog was always skinny, the complaint said, adding Whitmore said he ordered dog food online, then switched to buying it at Walmart, according to the complaint. The last date he ordered dog food online, the complaint said, was Aug, 22, 2022.

He said he got dog wormer and gave it to the animal in December, but did not take the dog to a vet, the complaint said.

Oil City code enforcement said the water to the house was turned off on Jan. 25, and the house seemed vacant and abandoned when a condemned sign was posted Feb. 7, the complaint said.

On May 12, the deputy spoke with a local veterinarian, who after seeing pictures of the dog said he believed the emaciated condition of the dog was due to the dog not being fed properly or due to another condition that should have been recognized by the dog’s owner and treated by a vet, the complaint said.

Whitmore has been charged with a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals- causing serious bodily injury or death, and misdemeanor counts of neglect of animals- tethering and cruelty to animals.

He was arraigned May 19 before District Judge Patrick Lowrey.

Whitmore’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday before Lowrey.