The Stillwater Animal Welfare division confirmed it is investigating allegations of animal cruelty involving an OSU football player.
On Tuesday, The Daily O'Collegian received an email from Lauren Brush, a recent graduate from the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, claiming Shamiel Gary, her former neighbor, is intentionally starving his two Boxer breed dogs.
The alleged mistreatment started in October, when Brush said she tried to arrange play dates with her Great Dane puppy and his Boxer. While looking for the owner, Brush said she noticed the dog rarely had water or food and no access to a shelter outdoors. She called animal control at that time but did not hear a response, she said.
A few weeks later, she confronted Gary, 22, who denied the accusations, saying Brush was not accustomed to the appearance of Boxer dogs. Gary got the other Boxer during the New Year, Brush said.
Brush, who now lives in Bartlesville, said she went to her former home, at North Glenwood Street, on Sunday to pack the last of her belongings and say goodbye to the Boxers. At that time, she saw they were starved and took photos, which she emailed to the Animal Welfare office on Monday, she said.
Dr. Lesa Staubus, a veterinarian at OSU's animal hospital who works in the shelter department, has also seen the photos, Brush said. Calls to Staubus for comment were not immediately returned.
Stillwater Police Capt. Randy Dickerson also confirmed an investigation into the claims Brush made Tuesday afternoon. He did not confirm that Gary was a suspect, but he said animal control officers made contact with someone that day, as well as in the past, to learn more about the allegations.
Dickerson said protocol in animal cruelty investigations varies depending on the specifics of each case.
Mary Dickey, the shelter director for Stillwater Animal Welfare, said the department has two open cases at the moment, but declined to elaborate on either.
OSU Director of Communications Gary Shutt said Tuesday that Gary has an address in Tulsa listed for his school directory information, but said fellow football player Brodrick Brown listed his address as being at the 2400 block of North Keller Drive.
Gary and Brown are roommates, Brush said.
Brush said she thinks Gary has malnourished the dogs to the point of near death.
"That dog is days away from starving to death, maybe less if there is no water,” she said. “The vet students and I all think the dogs are only alive because the recent rains and snow gave the dogs some water. They were put in a yard and left to die."
Animal cruelty is a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment, up to a $5,000 fine or both, according to the Oklahoma State Courts Network.
When asked for comment about the claims, OSU football media relations spokesman Gavin Lang directed questions to the OSU communications department.
For his part, Gary took to his Facebook page to dispute Brush’s accusations Tuesday afternoon, posting, “God bless this woman that lives behind me lol she is funny I don’t get it.”
Calls made to Gary’s cell phone Tuesday night for further comments revealed the phone number is no longer in service.
Gary, a senior safety who transferred from the University of Wyoming, finished third on the team in total tackles last season, recording 72, and had two interceptions.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no one has been charged with a crime in Payne County District Court.