Crime & Courts

Follow-Up File: South Carolina Cop Charged With Animal Abuse

Unanswered questions remain …

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An Upstate, South Carolina police officer and her husband – a former member of law enforcement – have been charged with animal abuse after a photo of their dog was published on this media outlet last month.

We were alerted to this awful situation on April 13, 2024 via an email sent through our tip line. According to the email, the emaciated animal – a one-year-old pit bull mix named ‘Marley’ – was photographed in “distressing conditions, surrounded by what appears to be its own urine and feces.”

Police reports obtained by this media outlet indicate the harrowing photo of the caged canine was taken by a minor child who told officers the dog “appeared to not be fed.”

In the aftermath of the photo being provided to law enforcement, the dogs’ owners claim to have euthanized the animal “humanely” – but previous statements made to police referenced “letting nature take its course.”

Here is the photograph which prompted the investigation and subsequent charges …

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Photo of the late ‘Marley’ taken on April 12, 2024. (Provided)

Earlier this week, 34-year-old Amanda Kaitlyn Ross and her husband, 42-year-old Donald D. Ross, Jr. – both of Greer, S.C. – were charged with animal abuse following an investigation by the Greer police department which began on April 12, 2024.

According to police reports, Donald Ross’ minor children told police they became concerned when a bag of dog food kept in the home seemed just as full to them as it had been during a prior visit to the residence weeks before. They told police the dogs had been moved to the garage during the Christmas holiday after causing some damage to the residence. Since that time, they said Marley had lost significant weight and was obviously unwell – which troubled them. Observing no food or water in Marley’s waste-filled crate, one of the children tried to feed the dog by throwing her dog food into the crate.

When an officer visited the Ross home on Friday, April 12, 2024, the children were present with Amanda and Donald Ross. Amanda Ross alleged there had been prior issues and complaints made by the children’s mother – Leah Russell – but stated that they were “okay” with the children going with their mother “even though it was their weekend.” Accordingly, the situation was handled as a family custody issue – and the children’s mother was called to pick them up from the residence.

Donald Ross further stated he and Russell had been involved in an ongoing custody dispute – and that it had been weeks since he had seen his children. When they did visit, he said they were often bored. Donald Ross told the officer that it wasn’t the first time the children “used the I’m scared card.”

After the children left, Amanda Ross made several statements to police regarding Marley. According to her, the dog continued to lose weight despite being fed “plenty of times during the day” – and they did not know what else could be wrong. She said Marley was placed in a kennel due to two other dogs fighting with her – but also said the other dogs would bark because they wanted to be in the garage with Marley. She said another reason Marley was in the garage was because she had bladder issues.

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Marley and her living conditions were not observed by Greer police during their initial visit, according to the report. When a police officer returned to the home hours later, no one answered the door.

The following day, Donald Ross showed officers an empty, clean crate in the garage which purportedly belonged to Marley – who was no longer at the residence. He explained he could not afford to have Marley put down by a veterinarian, so asked a friend to handle it for him. In a phone call from police to that friend, Bobby Bosko, police were told the dog was “humanely put down.”

Donald Ross initially told police Marley was very sick and suffering from heartworm disease – and that the couple was “letting nature take its course” because they could not afford medication to treat her. In later interviews with police, however, it became apparent this diagnosis was only a guess because Marley had never been to see a veterinarian.

By the time officers assessed the garage and Marley’s crate, the German shepherd named Raven had been reportedly re-homed, but police were unable to confirm those details. The police report indicated the couple also have four indoor cats – two of which were observed to be in good health.  

Amanda Ross has been employed by the Greenville police department since December 31, 2018, according to records from the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy (SCCJA). 

Donald Ross is a former member of law enforcement who worked for the Greenville police department from May 2006 to July 2010. Upon his resignation, police chief Terri Wilfong stated he would not rehire Ross because of prior disciplinary problems. Ross went on to work for the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport police from November 2011 to February 2016, and the Spartanburg County sheriff’s office from February 2016 to July 2019 – when he was terminated for misconduct. At that time, the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) was investigating a domestic violence complaint against him. On July 19, 2019, Donald Ross was charged with two counts of domestic violence in the second degree and two counts of domestic violence in the third degree. 

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RELATED | ANOTHER CDV CHARGE AGAINST SPARTANBURG DEPUTY

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In January 2020, Donald Ross agreed to relinquish his law enforcement certification, which prevented his further employment as a police officer in South Carolina or any other state. He pleaded guilty to one count of domestic violence and was sentenced to 90 days – suspended – and 24 months of probation.

The summonses to appear on charges of animal abuse presented to Amanda and Donald Ross indicate that each of the defendants incurred a fine or bond of $1,087.50 – which has yet to be paid. The defense attorney representing Amanda Ross, Ryan James of Greenville, S.C., has requested a jury trial.

“The overzealous ex of her husband has, on multiple occasions, harassed, stalked and otherwise concocted nonsensical versions of events in blatant attempts to achieve this very end,” James said in a statement provided to Fox Carolina. “In fact, this pet suddenly became seriously ill. Officer Ross and her husband did not have adequate means for a vet procedure, as many folks do not, so they ultimately had to have the beloved pet put down.”

Beloved pet?

“While the image portrays a deprived and emaciated animal, the pet was only crated during times the family was away as it could no longer control bowel movements and would litter the home if not properly observed,” James’ statement continued. “It’s utterly reprehensible to think someone who is tasked with preventing animal cruelty by trade, would then be senseless enough to commit the same. There’s no statute on the books that punishes those for lack of adequate resources, without more. The same is being attempted here and shall be fought feverishly. Officer Ross may well take action of her own so that this ugliness will cease and desist.”

There is no defense attorney listed on court filings regarding Donald Ross. Both cases are scheduled for criminal/traffic court in Greer Municipal Court on May 22, 2024.

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THE REPORT …

(Greer Police Department)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Callie Lyons (provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher and author. Her 2007 book ‘Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal’ was the first to cover forever chemicals and their impact on communities – a story later told in the movie ‘Dark Waters’. Her investigative work has been featured in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world. Lyons also appears in ‘Citizen Sleuth’ – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.

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5 comments

Jessi Doyle Top fan May 3, 2024 at 5:00 am

His ex didn’t stage these photos. Hopefully this is part of the custody battle. Children and animals need to be far away from these people.

Reply
Red Uprising May 3, 2024 at 2:02 pm

All cops are.

Reply
Squishy123 (the original) May 3, 2024 at 5:41 pm

I’m guessing a jury trial is going to be the wrong defense. There are dozens of things they could have done besides lock it in a dirty kennel for days or weeks. Unless they can prove the other dog is still alive I’m guessing “Bobby” killed both of them. All three of them need the same fate… a bullet to the back of the head and dumped in a hole or put into a trash bag.

Reply
Noah Loomis May 5, 2024 at 4:16 pm

So he’s trying to claim….the exe put the dog there & starved it herself? Those kids are amazing for reporting their father but I can imagine why the police didn’t act as soon as they were given a photo of a starving dog at a home to seize it. He probably had his “friend” suffocate the dog in a bag in the woods like happens to so many animals around here.
I’ve found 4 hunting dogs stuffed in black bags with their collars still on in the woods near my house, people are the worst species by a large margin.

Reply
She May 6, 2024 at 10:35 am

Seems like cops are being treated like priests have been— move them around to different positions, shifts, depts, etc and hope nobody finds out about the previous issues with them. Paper trails like that are not coincidence. Wake up.

Reply

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