Transit activist Clay Chastain was in Kansas City on Friday to tout his latest petition initiative on the August ballot, but he ended up answering questions about animal cruelty allegations involving the deaths of three dogs where he lives in Bedford, Va.
The questions arose at a Union Station news conference about two animal cruelty cases last year. In one case, two dogs died on a July day in the trunk of a car. In the other case, a dog running loose died when it was struck by a car.
In both cases, the misdemeanor cruelty charges were later dismissed. In the second case, Chastain was fined for having an unlicensed dog, court records show.
Chastain grew irate Friday over the questions from Bill Grady of KMBZ radio and emphasized he was never convicted of any crime. He said the allegations had nothing to do with his political activism in Kansas City and should have no bearing on how voters consider his rail transit proposal.
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“I said these were terrible accidents,” Chastain said. “And I’m not going to comment any more on that question.”
When pressed about what the incidents say about his judgment, Chastain responded, “It wasn’t bad judgment. It was an accident. I told you that. I was not convicted of any crime.”
In the incident last July, two small dogs died after being left in the trunk of a car parked outside a library in Bedford, according to Police Chief Todd Foreman.
Foreman said it was about 95 degrees that day.
Chastain was found not guilty, and the judge handling the case dismissed the charge in September, court records show.
Chief Foreman said Friday he did not know why the case was dismissed. Court officials said Friday that the judge was precluded from commenting by Virginia law.
Chastain, who lives in Bedford but has repeatedly pushed petition initiatives in Kansas City, was charged again in October after an incident in September. A dog running loose was hit by a car and killed.
Foreman said that after he and prosecutors conferred, they decided the incident did not constitute cruelty under Virginia law and dismissed the charge.
Chastain instead was found guilty of having an unlicensed dog. He was fined $25 and assessed $91 in court costs, the records stated.
In a telephone interview with The Star later Friday, Chastain said the judge dismissed the animal cruelty charge because “there wasn’t any basis for the charge. There was no animal cruelty involved.”
He refused to discuss details of what happened.
Chastain said he is not a candidate for office, although he has run for Kansas City mayor in the past. In addition to this year’s initiative proposal and August vote, he has pushed a variety of rail transit petition initiatives in Kansas City for the past 20 years.
“I’m not running for mayor. My character doesn’t need to be examined,” he told The Star. “I should not be subjected to a character analysis. If I was running for office, that would be a different story.”