Animal cruelty suspect arrested

Published 2:05 am Wednesday, May 10, 2006

By By Adam Prestridge
For the second time in two months an Atmore resident has been arrested for animal cruelty.
Only this time the canine victim was shot three times and left for dead.
According Renee Jones, director and cruelty investigator for The Humane Society of Escambia County, Ala., Marlon Thead of 64 Aplin Road was arrested on May 1 following a felony grand jury indictment of first-degree cruelty to a dog.
"He denies shooting it at all, even with four eyewitnesses," Jones said.
Thead is accused of shooting a stray dog that had wandered into his yard three times with a shotgun on Jan 8 in the presence of numerous witnesses. Though she was severely injured and needed intensive veterinarian assistance, the dog, which has since been named "Annie Oakley" survived the horrific crime.
"We were thrilled that this dog survived, it was suffering" Jones said. "There is no reason for anyone to take some animal's life because it's annoying."
Jones said for years residents throughout Escambia County and other parts of the state have taken matters into their own hands when it came to sick, stray or unwanted animals.
"Those days are gone," she said. "In this county we have a huge problem; an overpopulation of cats and dogs and owner responsibility."
In late February, John Brown of 1148 Conway Road in Atmore was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence by Judge Dave Jordan after he was convicted of cruelty to several dogs.
"An animal will do what its nature is," Jones said. "If your chickens are running loose in your yard and your neighbor has a dog, it's pretty asinine to believe the dog isn't going to chase your chickens. That doesn't mean that animal deserves to die. Give us the opportunity to try to help. There's a misconception in rural areas that if an animal is on their property, even if it doesn't belong to them that it's OK to shoot that dog because it's bothering them. Alabama state law says differently."
"Annie Oakley" is currently living at the Humane Society's shelter recovering from her injuries.
"Unfortunately, the truth is we probably get two or three dogs a month that have been shot," Jones said. "In most cases, we can't prove anything even if we do know. In this case, we had the eyewitnesses, X-rays, plus the dog. We have a pretty strong case."
Thead is out on a $15,000 bond. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in jail.
"We're very, very pleased that in this county we have citizens that will stand up and say 'No, I don't care how it's been done for 100 years, we're not going to tolerate it any longer.'"
According to Jones, Thead's arraignment is Thursday at the Brewton Courthouse.

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