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Posted on: February 23, 2017

Loudoun Man Faces Animal Cruelty Charges Following Dog Death Investigation

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A Purcellville man is facing a felony animal cruelty charge in connection with the alleged abuse and shooting death of his dog. 
Loudoun County Animal Services (LCAS) conducted an investigation following the dog’s death, which occurred after the dog allegedly bit a 19-month-old child in the man’s home. Thomas M. Hockett, 28, is accused of beating the dog and shooting it to death. If convicted, he faces up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. 
The LCAS investigation began on January 17, 2017, after the Loudoun County Health Department requested rabies testing to rule out risk of exposure to the 19-month-old. An Animal Control Officer retrieved the deceased dog from the property for rabies testing. The dog tested negative for rabies; however, inspection of the dog’s body by the officer and a licensed veterinarian discovered 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.
“Virginia law allows animal owners to use a firearm as a means to humanely destroy their dog, but death must be immediate,” said Chief Animal Services Officer Mark Stacks. “Our focus in this investigation was whether the dog experienced any undue pain or suffering.”

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office served Hockett with a warrant for his arrest. Hockett was released on $2,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in Loudoun General District Court on February 24, 2017.

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