A Virginia man’s service dog was gunned down by his neighbor, who was charged in the killing, according to the local sheriff’s office.
Louis E. Davis Jr., 67, from Waynesboro, Virginia, was arrested on Saturday, charged with felony animal cruelty and misdemeanor reckless handling of a firearm, according to a statement posted Monday by the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO).
ACSO Lieutenant Leslie Snyder told Newsweek in a phone interview on Monday night that Bear, a husky, had escaped from his owner’s fenced-in yard and was fatally shot Friday morning. It was unknown at the time of publication whether Davis knew the dog’s owner or had prior issues with the service dog.
A 27-year-old Augusta County man called 911 shortly after 8 a.m. Friday from Waynesboro Animal Hospital to report that Bear had been shot, the sheriff’s office said in the statement.
Bear’s owner, who has not been identified, told authorities that he heard a gunshot outside before «hearing an animal cry out.» When he went outside, the owner said, he noticed his husky was no longer in the fenced-in area where he had left the dog. He said he found his service dog on the road near his home on Mormon Gap Road in Waynesboro. Bear suffered a gunshot wound to the spine and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the animal hospital, the sheriff’s office said.
Snyder told Newsweek that there are specific laws offering additional protections to service animals but said she could not elaborate further at the time of publication due to the ongoing investigation.
She said that even though Bear was a service dog, the incident would have been «more justified» if the husky had attacked or threatened Davis. Snyder said the sheriff’s office is still investigating the shooting and could not share a motive or more details as of Monday night.
«The dog did escape, so if the dog was threatening him, his family or his animals, then the shooting would be more justified,» Snyder said, adding that «killing a service animal is a serious matter.»
A large-caliber revolver, believed to be used in the shooting, was recovered and seized by deputies, according to the police statement.
Davis was taken to Middle River Regional Jail in Verona, where he is being held without bond. Online jail records do not list an attorney who could speak on his behalf.