HICKORY, NC (WBTV) - Animal cruelty charges against a Hickory man were dropped after court officials say the case lacked malice.
Daniel Dawarren Pride, 37, was charged with 33 felony counts of animal cruelty after dead dogs were found inside a building earlier this month.
The court ruled that the acts were not done "maliciously," an element officials say is needed for charges of felony animal cruelty. Pride waived probable cause on other charges he faced, including possession of a firearm by a felon and maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance.
The Hickory Police Department says officers were called to the 500 block of 7th Ave PL SW in reference to a suspicious vehicle on Jan. 3. "Upon arrival, officers located multiple animals, some deceased, inside a building on the property," police say.
Most of the more than 30 dogs found were still alive but not doing well. At least three of the dogs were dead.
A vet technician says the dogs, mostly pit bulls, showed evidence of bite marks, malnutrition, and dehydration.
Pride was arrested and taken to the Catawba County Detention Facility.
Items seized at the scene have been submitted for scientific examination and testing.
"Investigation into the matter continues by Hickory Police Department," court officials say. "When the investigation has been completed, all materials will be submitted to the District Attorney's Office, and an appropriate charging decision will be made at that time for consideration by the Catawba County Grand Jury."