In August 2009, a 3 month old mixed breed puppy named “Susie” jumped on the couch in her NC home. This, to anyone who has ever owned a puppy or at least has reasonable expectations of puppy behavior, is not in any way surprising. What is outright shocking is the reaction of the then 20 year old owner, Lashawn Whitehead.
The man severely beat the puppy, breaking her jaw and teeth, tied her up and set her on fire. Susie had burns covering more than 60% of her body and her ears were burned off completely. She was abandoned, left for dead in a park, but managed to survive for two weeks even while maggots infested her wounds. Susie was found by a good Samaritan and the Guilford Co Animal Shelter cared for the dog while she made an amazing recovery with a foster family. Susie has since been adopted permanently (by a dog bite victim!) and is doing well.
Mr. Whitehead turned himself in to authorities in November:
Whitehead has been charged with felony animal cruelty and burning personal property. If convicted on both charges, he faces almost four years in prison.
His mother claimed Mr. Whitehead had explained his actions as being protective of his infant child who he said was on the couch at the time Susie jumped on it. The mother also claimed he was in need of mental health treatment.
Last month, Mr. Whitehead was sentenced to probation:
Under North Carolina law, the maximum penalty for animal abuse is probation.
[Susie’s new owner, Donna] Lawrence has developed a team to push the state legislature to make animal abuse carry a prison sentence.
I hope Mr. Whitehead is receiving the mental health care he needs and that his baby and everyone in his household remains safe. And I hope he never, ever gets another pet.