Howell was released from jail after posting bond. Shortly after, she took to Facebook again to say that she had taped up Leah's muzzle as a "joke," and that people labeling her as an animal abuser had it all wrong. She even suggests that, due to all the outrage surrounding her crime, she is the real victim.
"I'm just almost at the point in tears that people are so mean. And I respect that people are serious about animal abuse, they should be," she wrote, as quoted by WBTV. "But I would never abuse my dog. Sad part is people who have never met us are saying different but my dog as happy and playful as can be. I never dreamed human beings could be so cruel and put people they have never met down."
Finding no overt signs of neglect or mistreatment, beyond what was seen in the photos, authorities decided to let Howell stay with Leah, despite public calls to have the dog rescued.
This case comes just months after several other high-profile instances of dogs having their mouths taped shut in what, sadly, appears to be a disturbing new trend.
If you suspect an animal is being abused, take action. Visit the Humane Society of the United States's website for tips on what you can do to help.