A Semora, North Carolina man, Andrew Dease, had two charges of felony animal cruelty dismissed on Tuesday in Halifax County General District Court.
The animal cruelty charges stemmed from Dease having dragged his two hunting dogs to their deaths on March 28.
However, after hearing evidence, Judge Darrell Puckett found that the defendant’s actions were accidental, not purposeful, and that the defendant had no intent to harm the animals.
The judge acknowledged the death of the dogs was tragic, and he noted that the defendant himself was emotional about their loss, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Q. Martin.
Before making his decision, Puckett heard evidence that Dease’s two “coonhounds” died “due to extreme pain, blood loss and subsequent massive shock,” according to a veterinary report.
The charges first came about after citizens complained to Animal Control officers on March 28 that Dease had disposed of two dogs off of Lowery Road in Halifax County.
Officers observed blood marks on the roadway indicating the dogs had been dragged for approximately three miles to the Lowery Road location.
On Tuesday, Dease testified on his own behalf and described the dragging death of the dogs as an accident.
He told the judge that he had been “coon hunting” with a friend and had placed his hunting dogs inside a large “dog box” in the bed of his pickup truck and tied them there as well. He said that the latch on the box door was faulty, allowing the dogs to jump out.
He testified that he was unaware while he was driving that the dogs had tried to escape and that, only when he stopped at a friend’s house, did he realize the dogs had been dragged.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney stated, “Without question, these dogs suffered shocking, horrible deaths. The felony animal cruelty statute requires proof that the defendant acted ‘willfully’ to inflict inhumane injury or pain, meaning the acts must be purposeful. In this case, the court found that the defendant’s actions were accidental, not purposeful, and that he did not intend the tragic end to his companion animals. Regardless of this outcome, my office appreciates the thorough investigative efforts of Halifax County Animal Control in this and every animal cruelty case.”