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Fayetteville man charged for starving dog to death; family denies allegations

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A man was accused of starving his dog to death (WTVD)

A Fayetteville man is back in jail after his bond was increased for a felony animal abuse charge.

Jason Howard, 37, is facing animal cruelty charges for the Dec. 23 death of his pit bull puppy. Authorities said the dog starved to death, while the Howard family maintains the dog died of complications tied to a worm disease.

Howard was arrested and charged on Wednesday, and posted a $10,000 bond. When he appeared in court Thursday and at the request of the district attorney's office, District Court Judge Lou Olivera increased Howard's bond to $25,000. Howard was taken back into custody.

Cumberland County authorities responded to a neighbor's call about the dead 18-month-old puppy two days before Christmas. Howard was at work, and his wife Nikki said she returned to their Snow Hill Church Road home from Christmas shopping to allow Animal Control access to the dog's outdoor pen.

Nikki Howard said the family's three other dogs were alive and well when investigators took the dead dog for an autopsy. She believes the dog died after the couple left for the day. At the time, she said investigators told her the death did not appear to be a result of abuse.

But authorities said an autopsy revealed the dog had no food in its stomach, and weighed a mere 16 pounds. On Christmas Eve they returned to the home to take the three remaining dogs in custody.

"I'm sad by that [the puppy's death], but anything he could do, he did it for the puppy," said Nikki Howard. "He fed that dog, you know. We couldn't force the puppy to eat, you know, and he's very sad that his puppy's gone. Very sad."

Howard added her husband does not have a criminal record. If convicted, Howard could face up to 15 months in jail.

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