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Forest Hills man who starved pit bull released from jail after snafu

| Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016, 12:39 p.m.

A Forest Hills man convicted of nearly starving his pit bull to death was released to probation Wednesday, but only after he spent over two weeks in jail because probation officers believed he violated his sentence by having another dog.

Gerald Walker Jr., 20, was convicted of animal cruelty by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani on Aug. 4 for starving a small tan and white pit bull named Effie. A Humane Society police officer called the thinnest animal he had ever seen alive.

Mariani sentenced him to 18 months of probation, with the condition he not live with or care for any animals.

When probation officials asked to meet with Walker Sept. 17, they went to his girlfriend's house in Pittsburgh's Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood and found another dog, said court liason Ashlee Lynn. Walker was immediately arrested for violating the terms of his probation and sent to the Allegheny County Jail.

In photos presented to the court at Walker's probation violation hearing Wednesday, a black and white pit bull was tied up in the kitchen similar to how Walker's previous dog had been found by maintenance workers. This time, however, the dog had food and water nearby.

“Your client was to have no situation in which he was anywhere near animals, let alone one so similar to the last one,” Mariani told defense attorney Kevin Lee.

Walker said he was only there visiting his girlfriend and their infant daughter. The girlfriend testified that she was dog-sitting the pit bull for her sister, and the dog had been taken back to her sister's house by the time humane officers arrived for the dog after Walker's arrest.

Walker explained he had been evicted from the Wilkinsburg address where police had found Effie. He had been in the process of moving his belongings to his mother's new home in Forest Hills when probation officials asked where they could meet him, so he gave his girlfriend's address.

“I wasn't thinking of the dog; I wanted to go see my daughter,” Walker said.

Mariani agreed to immediately release Walker from jail back to probation, though he added that Walker should do extra chores for his girlfriend and family who came to court to support him.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412 391 0927 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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