Lockhart breeder gets probation, forced to surrender animals in cruelty case
By Miles Smith
A Lockhart breeder convicted last month on animal cruelty charges will spend 30 days in jail, surrender all of his animals and agree not to own any more animals for the next two years as terms of his two-year-probation sentence.
Craig “CJ” Tobler’s sentence was handed down Thursday in at the Caldwell County Justice center two days shy of three years following his arrest that occurred after a former caretaker working on his 46-acre ranch discovered an ill, badly wounded French bulldog in the filthy back room of a house on the property.
If Tobler violates his probation, which includes paying a $4,000 fine, he could be sent to jail for a year.
The sentence came after the prosecution made the argument that Tobler was still neglecting animals on his property following the sentence, which the defense countered by trying to paint a picture of a man who was doing as well as he could while dealing with limited finances and poor health.
County Court-At-Law Judge Ed Jarrett made it clear following a 2 ½-hour sentencing hearing that included testimony from six witnesses and a presentation by the prosecution of photos and videos of dogs in poor condition discovered just two days ago at the property that he was not granting Tobler probation to be kind or lenient.
“Mr. Tobler, I don’t know if you’re Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, and I’m having a hard time reconciling the two sides I’ve heard about today,” Jarrett said. “But those photos were disgusting.
“Whether it’s because of your finances or your health, it is clear to me that you should not be owning animals. That’s why I think the best thing I can do to ensure we can keep a close eye on you is to put you on probation.”
Testimony from witnesses, insight from the caretaker who discovered the dog that led to Thursday’s outcome, and thoughts from a group dedicated to taking down puppy mills will be in the Aug. 2 Post-Register.