Animal abuse cases aren’t taken seriously enough. It isn’t only about animal welfare, which obviously matters, but we also know there’s a link between animal abuse and human abuse. If a person is violent toward animals, it’s likely that he or she will show violence toward humans at some point.
Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman who killed 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, was accused of being violent toward his dog at a trailer park in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
According to an August 1, 2014, report from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were called to the trailer park when neighbors saw him beating his own brown and white Husky.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call of a man who was punching a dog at the trailer park. According to police records, four witnesses told deputies that they saw a man, matching Kelley’s description, yelling at, chasing, and punching the Husky.
“The suspect then started beating on the dog with both fists, punching it in the head and chest,” a deputy wrote in the incident report. “He could hear the suspect yelling at the dog, and, while he was striking it, the dog was yelping and whining. The suspect then picked up the dog by the neck into the air and threw it onto the ground and then drug him away to lot 60.”
Dave Ivey, who identified himself as Kelley’s uncle, apologized to the shooting victims in an interview with NBC News. “I never in a million years could have believed Devin could be capable of this kind of thing,” Ivey said.
But, had law enforcement been paying attention, Kelley never would have been allowed to purchase a gun in the first place. Tip offs include his past history of animal abuse and an arrest for domestic violence.
When El Paso County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ronald Mitchell convinced Kelley to open the door of his trailer home, he could tell the dog was undernourished. When he touched the dog he could feel his ribs.
Kelley told the sergeant that his dog ran out of his camper and began acting aggressively to another dog. Kelley said he had to jump on the dog to control the animal. “He stated he then walked the dog back to the trailer without any other incident,” according to the police report.
Kelley denied hitting the dog, throwing the dog to the ground, or carrying it by its neck.
Authorities took the Husky to the Veterinary Specialty Center.
El Paso County Judge Daniel Scott Wilson sentenced Kelley to a deferred probationary sentence and ordered him to pay $368 in restitution.
The cruelty to animals charge was dismissed on March 31, 2016, after Kelley successfully completed his probationary sentence. I can’t help but wonder what might not have happened if Kelley had been convicted, and served a jail sentence. There is no information about what happened to the dog or where the dog is today.