Man Arrested When Using a Leash to Walk His Mentally Ill Wife

A man from Pennsylvania decided to bring his wife on a little outing to a county fair, but he was worried that the woman, who suffers from dementia, might get lost. To solve the problem, he tied an 8-foot leash around her neck.

People called the police to complain when they saw the man yanking the leash, causing his wife’s head to snap back.

Walter William Wolford of Hagerstown, Pennsylvania was spotted at the York County Fair with his wife, Catherine. He had a nylon leash tied around the woman’s neck, and people say they saw the 66-year-old husband yanking on the leash too hard. Police came to investigate and Wolford ended up getting arrested.

Catherine is reportedly suffering from late-stage dementia. Wolford says he wanted to bring her out, but only used the leash to keep her safe.

He told police that when he first tied it on her, he had it around her waist. Somehow, it rode up, he claims. It is unclear how the leash could have gotten over her arms, though, and around her neck.

“Walter told me he originally placed the leash around her waist, but somehow it had moved up around her neck and when she walked away from him and all of the slack became taut, he ‘gently tugged on the leash so she would stop’, read an arrest report.

Wolford also told police that he was very gentle with his wife, and he only tugged gently when she was getting too far away from him. The leash was meant to protect her in the crowds, the husband claims. Wolford’s son, Walter Wolford Jr., was also present.

He did not say much to the police, but he did insist that his father did not abuse his mother.

Witnesses claim Wolford was yanking the leash harshly, and that Catherine’s head was snapping back. Police found red marks left on the woman’s neck from the leash. Mr. Wolford was arrested and released from jail on $5,000 bail. He is set to appear in court on October 18.

After the incident, Wolford Jr. took to Facebook to complain about people misunderstanding what they saw, and to say that people should feel bad for what his father goes through. According to reports, Catherine was diagnosed with early stages of dementia in 2013, and she was not expected to live more than two years at that time.

Wolford has been caring for her ever since, even as her mental condition has continued to decline.

Wolford Jr. called the incident a ‘gross misunderstanding’.

While tying a leash around a woman’s neck is never a good idea, there are many people who advocate the use of some kind of safety harness and leash with those who are mentally challenged, or even with young children.

It is very controversial, with some people feeling that using a leash is akin to treating someone like an animal. On the other side of the argument, advocates say that it is a valid safety device that can protect someone who might slip away and end up in a dangerous situation.

The arguments on message forums go on, but all would probably agree that any type of harness would need to be comfortable and safe, if one is being used at all.

Source: Daily Mail
Photos: Daily Mail, Omar Bárcena/Wikimedia, Pexels, Chris Wagner/Wikimedia

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