A Helena man has been charged with animal cruelty for getting his dog four times more drunk than the legal limit for humans driving motor vehicles.
Todd Harold Schrier, 49, also faces a felony drug charge related to the March 1 incident.
At about 11:30 p.m. that night, East Helena police responded to a report of an intoxicated dog being cared for at Smith’s Bar and found Arly II, a Pomeranian or Pomeranian cross, who could not walk a straight line and kept falling over when placed on the floor, according to an affidavit filed by police in District Court.
The dog had drunk in a car outside the bar and was reported to police by customers and staff who then took care of the dog until police arrives.
“We basically saved the dog’s life,” bar manager Joe Wieck said.
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An intoxicated person who claimed part ownership of the 20-pound dog told police that Schrier had given the dog about a “to-go cup of vodka,” police wrote.
Police took the dog to Alpine Animal Clinic, where veterinarian Dr. Michelle Richardson drew blood and sent it to St. Peter’s Hospital, which found a blood-alcohol level of 0.348 percent. The legal limit for driving is 0.08 percent.
Richardson said alcohol affects dogs similar to the way it affects humans. An alcohol level of 0.4 percent can be fatal in humans.
“I had never seen a dog with acute alcohol poisoning,” said Richardson, who has been practicing for 20 years.
She said she’s aware of cases where dogs ate sweetened vodka-laced Jello shots, or lapped up beer from cups at a barbecue, but had never seen a case of intentional intoxication.
“I hope it’s rare,” she said.
Arly II stayed at the animal hospital a few days and is now at the Lewis and Clark Humane Society pending the outcome of the criminal case.
Police caught up with Schrier at the VFW in East Helena and say they found a bag of hydrocodone pills on the ground outside where he had been standing smoking, leading to the drug charge. He is also on probation for a pair of previous drug charges.
Schrier is in the city-county jail with bail at $30,000. He is scheduled for an initial appearance in District Court today.
Reporter Sanjay Talwani: 447-4086, email@example.com or Twitter.com/IR_SanjayT