Dog Shot After Biting Child; Owner Charged

A Purcellville man is facing up to five years in prison for fatally shooting a pet dog after it bit a toddler last month.

Loudoun County Animal Services investigated the case after receiving a request on Jan. 17 to test the deceased dog to rule out the possibility of rabies exposure to the bitten 19-month-old.

The dog tested negative for rabies; however, the animal control officer and the veterinarian saw evidence of excessive use of a firearm and lacerations. A necropsy showed evidence of trauma and bruising to internal organs that occurred prior to the fatal gunshot, the agency reported.

“Virginia law allows animal owners to use a firearm as a means to humanely destroy their dog, but death must be immediate,” Chief Animal Services Officer Mark Stacks stated. “Our focus in this investigation was whether the dog experienced any undue pain or suffering.”

Thomas M. Hockett, 28, this week was charged with animal cruelty for allegedly beating the dog and shooting it to death. The was released on $2,500 bond. He is scheduled to appear in General District Court on Friday.

If convicted, Hockett faces up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

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