The charge was filed by Cary police after a photo of 45-year-old Katharine Lemansky's chocolate lab named "Brown" was posted on Facebook last month with its mouth duct taped shut with the caption, "This is what happens when you dont shut up!!!"
Horrified animal lovers saw it and criticized her on social media, which sparked an investigation that spanned three states before she was located in Cary, North Carolina.
Police say Lemansky - whose Facebook page lists her name as Katie Brown - was staying in town with her dog when the photo was taken on Nov. 27.
Police say Lemansky's listed residence is South Daytona, Florida but she has ties to Connecticut. Her Facebook page states she attended Central Connecticut State University.
Lemansky did not want to answer any reporter questions as she arrived at the Wake County Justice Center to face a magistrate. She left quickly after requesting a public defender.
She did not want to comment, however, Lemansky did tell ABC11 her dog is fine.
"Taping the dog's muzzle shut was a terrible decision on Ms. Lemansky's part, and charging her with animal cruelty under North Carolina law was the right thing to do," said Cary Police Captain Randall Rhyne after the incident. "At the same time, it's important to also note that our animal control officers who physically examined both Brown and her littermate found the dogs to be very well cared for, which is why we did not and could not remove them from the owner. The dogs are current on their shots, spayed, and microchipped. They are clean and well-nourished and appear to be comfortable in their surroundings. And there were no signs of injury to Brown's muzzle, not even detectable hair loss."
The animal cruelty charge carries a fine and possibly up to 150 days in jail if convicted. Lemansky is due in district court on Jan. 5.