HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Varina-area man faces a charge of animal cruelty, after police say he ran down and shot his neighbor's puppy.
Eleven-month-old Australian Shepherd "Grace" has the sad eyes of a puppy that's been through quite an ordeal. But, to her owners, sad is not the biggest emotion right now.
"Now we're angry. We're very angry. She did not deserve this," said Grace's "Mom" Heather Sheffield.
Police say, on Friday, Grace and other dog, Cheyenne, were running at large on their owners' property when they approached a 79-year-old neighbor. After the neighbor yelled at the dogs to leave, police say he returned to his Osborne Turnpike house, grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun, got in his truck, and spotted Grace. Then, police say, he pulled the trigger.
"It was an incredible ordeal. Still going on. She's fighting for her life as we speak," Sheffield said.
Veterinarians say Grace was struck by at least two slugs, suffering a broken pelvis. Experts say she also appears to have injuries that may have been caused by another type of weapon.
"So we do have some injuries that will take several weeks to couple months of overall healing. The head trauma is still, I think, the most serious injury, but she has been progressing with that," said Dr. Robert Fulton, a veterinarian at the Veterinary Emergency Center in Carytown.
The day after the shooting, the neighbor was arrested. He told police he, "was in fear of [his] life."
"I think that's a ridiculous statement. She's 20 pounds, and Australian Shepherd, she's timid by nature," Sheffield said in response.
Three days later, Grace is in serious condition. She's getting better, but recovery won't happen quickly. She'll need surgery, and it's unclear if she'll ever be the same again.
"I don't know why anyone would want to do anything like that to any animal," Sheffield said, adding later, "We want to see her jump and play and frisbee,"
The neighbor, Mack Donald Hudson, faces up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine if convicted on the misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. We reached him at home, but he declined to be interviewed. Police said his booking photo was not immediately available.