Forsyth County Animal Control truck

File photo

A Winston-Salem man pleaded guilty to charges that he starved his dog to death.

Hiram Renard Goins Jr., 30, of New Walkertown Road, entered a guilty plea Thursday in Forsyth Superior Court to one count of felony cruelty to animals. Judge Eric Morgan of Forsyth Superior Court gave Goins a suspended sentence of five months to 15 months in prison. Morgan placed Goins on three years of supervised probation during which time he cannot own a pet. He also has to complete 24 hours of community service within the first 120 days of his probation, according to court records.

Morgan also ordered Goins to serve an active jail sentence of 60 days. 

Assistant District Attorney Matt Breeding said that a neighbor complained to Forsyth County Animal Control that three dogs were tethered outside in cold weather on Goins' property. That happened on Dec. 30, 2017. Animal-control officers warned Goins to take care of his dogs.

Goins got a second complaint on Jan. 4, 2018 about his dogs being tethered in cold weather. When contacted by animal-control officers, Goins admitted that one of the dogs had died. According to weather records at the National Weather Service in Raleigh, the high at Piedmont Triad International Airport on Jan. 3, 2018 was 30 degrees and the low was 12. Arrest warrants said the dog died sometime between Jan. 3 and Jan. 4 of 2018. Goins surrendered the other two dogs, who were healthy.

A necropsy determined that the dog, a pitbull mix named Debo, died from malnutrition, starvation and exposure to the elements. 

Goins was initially charged with two counts of felony cruelty to animals — one based on starvation and the other charged based on exposure to the elements. Goins pleaded guilty to the charge associated with starvation.

Part of the plea arrangement was for Goins to get a mitigated sentence. Breeding said that Goins had no prior felony convictions and was cooperative with law enforcement. The harshest sentence Goins could have gotten based on his criminal record would have been eight months to 19 months in prison.

Dan Anthony, Goins' attorney, said Goins was remorseful for what happened to his dog.

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