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Martinsburg man arrested after dog tied to train track

October 19, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An arrest warrant was issued Monday charging a Martinsburg man with a felony count of animal cruelty following the death of a dog tied to a set of railroad tracks.

Richard Faircloth, 30, of 115 Swartz St., Martinsburg, was taken into police custody without incident Monday evening, said Cpl. R.L. Gardner of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

Gardner said the dog belonged to Faircloth and his wife.

Berkeley County Animal Control Officers Jason Ahalt and Clark McDaniel started the initial investigation after a train conductor told a police officer that he hit and killed a dog tied to the railroad tracks last Tuesday night.

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The conductor was not able to provide an exact location and officers did not find the dog that night, after searching for half an hour or longer, Ahalt said.

The dog was found the next morning on a set of tracks behind the Adam Stephen House in Martinsburg, off John Street, Ahalt said.

The dog had been tied to the tracks with a short blue leash in an apparent attempt to decapitate it, Ahalt said. Instead, the dog was able to wiggle its head a little, causing its lower jaw and tongue to be cut off, Ahalt said.

"I'd say this is the most horrible thing I've seen," said Ahalt, who has been an animal control officer since 1998. "This is the most gruesome and the most coldhearted (case)."

Animal Control Officer Larry Light said the dog did not die instantly.

"It suffered. It bled to death," Light said.

As the officers talked in their office, the dog's owner, Amy Faircloth, asked if she could have Kujo's body to bury. The officers said the dog is frozen and needs to be kept awhile longer.

Amy Faircloth, 23, said her husband bought the dog for her as a gift for her protection. Kujo, a shepherd/pit bull mix, would have turned 3 years old in December, she said.

"He was very loyal, the smartest dog I've ever seen. I did all of his obedience training myself. I was really, really attached to him," said Faircloth, who formerly worked at a no-kill animal shelter in Charles Town, W.Va.

Gardner said the warrant was for a felony charge of animal cruelty rather than a misdemeanor because there was intentional malice, an element that separates the two charges.

Gardner said the arrest was possible because of the work of Animal Control officers and Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith, who took a Crime Solvers tip about the case and immediately assigned Gardner to look into it.

Conviction on a felony charge of animal cruelty carries a sentence of one to three years in prison, Gardner said.

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