Fayetteville man charged with beating puppy to death

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- A Fayetteville man has been arrested and charged for beating his 10-week-old puppy to death.

James Strickland, 34, has been charged with felony cruelty to animals and is being held in the Cumberland County jail under a $10,000 secured bond.

In May, investigators with Cumberland County Animal Control and the Fayetteville Police Department were called out to Strickland's residence on Washington Drive. They said his roommate and neighbors witnessed Strickland beating his pit bull puppy to death on the neighborhood sidewalk.

"He had grabbed it by its rear legs and slammed its head on the concrete sidewalk and killed it," said Dr. John Lauby, the director of Cumberland County Animal Control.

Authorities said Strickland then carried the dead puppy into the woods, but admitted he killed his dog before leading investigators to its body.

"[He] had an argument with his friend and took it out on the dog," said Lauby. "There's no reason. No reason for this."

"He told investigators he was off his meds," added Lt. Elaine Smith, head of the animal cruelty division with Cumberland County Animal Control.

Smith joined the department in December and that's when an employee brought the case to her attention. She said an old employee essentially "dropped the ball" on the case, but it was reopened by Smith in December, as it had not reached its statute of limitations. The arrest was made early Tuesday morning.

Smith described the photos of the puppy named "8-Ball" as gruesome, as they depict the bloody puppy.

Strickland is a registered sex offender. In 1999, he was charged with taking indecent liberties with a minor in Harnett County.

Cracking down on abuse cases

The Strickland case joins a slew of recent Cumberland County felony animal abuse cases to make headlines in recent months.

This week, a woman whose 3-year-old Boxer died following problems with his gastrointestinal system faced a Cumberland County judge for abuse charges. The boxer, named Bruno, starved to death when the woman said she couldn't afford the medical attention. By the time he reached Animal Control and veterinarians, they could not save him. (Read more.)

"All she had to do was call and say, you know,' I went to a veterinarian. I can't afford this,' or whatever and we would help," said Lauby.

Last month, a man left more than a half dozen dogs in his Fayetteville home, while he left to care for a sick partner. Most of the dogs starved to death after trying to survive by eating furniture and the carcasses of those that passed before them. (Read more.)

And earlier this year, a Fort Bragg couple told a judge they couldn't afford to care for their 8-month old dog, so they tied up its snout, threw him in a pond, and drowned the pet. (Read more.)

Each pet owner faces felony animal cruelty charges, an offense punishable to up to 30 months in prison.

Lauby said Tuesday that the county is not necessarily seeing an increase in abuse cases, but his revamped department is vigorously going after them as long as the statute of limitations allows. New leadership is scanning possible cruelty cases. Lauby said they're better trained, equipped and willing to go after charges.

"I can promise you if I find out about it that they've abused their animals, we're going to charge them and make sure that they're punished to the fullest extent of the law."

Lauby's one plea to the public is to come to his department before putting an animal's life at risk.

"We can help them," Lauby said. "People don't have to do these things."

"They're making really terrible choices when they choose to abuse their animals and I can promise you if I find out about it, that they've abused their animals, we're going to charge them and make sure that they're punished to the fullest extent of the law."

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