A Virginia man’s service dog was shot and killed by his neighbor, who has been charged with murder, according to the local sheriff’s office.
Louis E. Davis Jr., 67, of Waynesboro, Virginia, was arrested Saturday, according to a statement released Monday by the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO). , was charged with felony animal cruelty and misdemeanor reckless handling of a firearm.
ACSO Lt. Leslie Snyder told Weekly newspaper In a phone interview Monday night, the husky bear escaped from his owner’s fenced-in yard and was shot to death Friday morning. As of press time, it was unclear whether Davis knew the dog’s owner or had had previous issues with the service dog.
A 27-year-old Augusta County man called 911 from Waynesboro Animal Hospital just after 8 a.m. Friday to report Bell had been shot, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The bear’s owner, who has not been identified, told authorities he heard gunshots outside and then “heard an animal barking.” The owner said that when he went outside, he noticed that his husky was no longer in the fenced 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. Bell was shot in the spine and pronounced dead upon arrival at an animal hospital, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Snyder told Weekly newspaper There are specific laws that provide additional protections for service animals, but said she could not elaborate further at the time of publication because the investigation was ongoing.
She said that even though Bell 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 was still investigating the shooting and could not release a motive or further details as of Monday evening.
“The dog did escape, so if the dog was a threat to him, his family or his animals, then the shooting would be more justified,” Snyder said. He added, “Killing a service animal is A serious matter.”
A large-caliber revolver believed to have been used in the shooting was discovered and seized, a police statement said.
Davis was taken to Middle River Regional Jail in Verona and is being held without bail. Online jail records did not list an attorney who could speak on his behalf.