PORT ANGELES — Leroy Hampton was sentenced last week to never owning a pet again.
The 41-year-old Port Angeles resident’s last two puppies were found with their muzzles taped shut and opioids in their system, authorities said.
A Clallam County Superior Court judge sentenced Hampton to seven years in prison Thursday after he pleaded guilty to 14 drug charges, a firearm offense, one count of possessing a stolen vehicle and two animal cruelty charges.
The felony cruelty charges ban Hampton from ever owning, caring for, possessing or living in any household where an animal is present.
The estimated 10-week-old puppies were found on the back seat of Hampton’s white Dodge pickup truck Jan. 27, culminating an undercover drug-buy operation in which 9 ounces of mostly heroin and some methamphetamine were found in the vehicle, according to a probable cause statement.
He was out on bail on following a previous large-scale drug find.
More than two months earlier, a Nov. 11 search of his truck and trailer had uncovered 13 ounces of methamphetamine and heroin, 72 fentanyl pills, and 19 pieces of pills believed to be Alprazolam, a Schedule 4 controlled substance. Hampton was released on bail.
Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Josh Powless, a supervisor with the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team, said in a probable cause statement that the puppies were on the back seat of the vehicle during the Jan. 27 search, which took place in the Goodwill Store parking lot in Port Angeles.
“Both of the puppies were found with what appeared to be electrical tape bound around their muzzles thus clamping their mouths shut,” Powless said in the probable cause statement.
“The purpose of this seemingly cruel act is unknown at this time.”
He speculated Friday that they were and Australian-Shepherd mix, describing them as “cute and fluffy.”
A urinalysis showed that the dogs had opiates in their system, according to a press release issued Thursday by the county prosecuting attorney’s office.
County Animal Control Officer Tracey Kellas said Friday that investigators are awaiting the results of blood tests of the dogs that may determine more about the drugs.
She said the puppies, both males, have been adopted out.
Kellas said drugs were smeared all over the seats and interior of Hampton’s’s vehicle where the puppies were found.
“He did tape their mouths shut, he had said, and honestly, I believe him,” Kellas said.
“He had said he just didn’t want them to eat stuff, and by that I really do believe he meant the drugs in the truck.
“He mentioned that he just was trying to stop them from eating everything, as puppies do.”
She said otherwise the puppies were well fed and flealess.
“They were healthy, they were clean, other than their muzzle being taped shut and the opioids in their system, they appeared to have been well cared for,” Kellas said.
“The reasons that [animal cruelty] charges were brought was because what he did was 1,000 percent wrong and inexcusable, whether he did it thoughtlessly or not. Taping and opiates, that’s horrible.
“It doesn’t help that he did it unthinkingly. He did it nonetheless.”
Neither Powless nor Kellas knew if Hampton had named the puppies.
The guilty plea was a combination of multiple cases against Hampton, including the discovery by OPNET detectives that Hampton was planning to introduce a controlled substance into the Clallam County jail with the help of an inmate, according to the press release.
That led to probable cause for Hampton’s arrest.
Port Angeles lawyer Lane Wolfley, representing Hampton, said Friday his client apologized for the offenses during his hearing Thursday.
“He’s very remorseful,” Wolfley said.
“He apologized to the court, he apologized to his parents, and he apologized to the community.”
Hampton pleaded guilty Thursday to 12 counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, two counts of delivery of a controlled substance, one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, one count of possession of a stolen vehicle — and ATV — and the two counts of felony first-degree animal cruelty.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected]