Dog’s death draws anger

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 19, 2002

Letters and faxes from animal rights activists are pouring into the District Attorney Ed Greene’s office in response to a dog being burned to death.

The letters are coming from organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Johnnie Bell, Jr. and Jonah Edwards were indicted Nov. 19 on charges of cruelty to animals. The charges stem from the burning death of

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Roger and Missy Cook’s dog, Killer.

One letter, from Joni Smith of Tuscumbia, said that she knows the system isn’t protecting animal’s rights, and she urged Greene to use the 2000 Alabama animal cruelty law to defend abused pets.

The law, which came into effect Aug. 1, 2000, makes animal cruelty a Class C felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Jane Jattuso of Selma wrote that she was horrified by the cruel acts, and wants Bell and Edwards not only prosecuted, but also to receive psychological counseling and to be prohibited from owning pets if guilty.

If found guilty, Ann Chynoweth, counsel to investigative services for the Humane Society, agreed that the accused should undergo mandatory psychological counseling, as well as a meaningful jail sentence.

Martin Mersereau, cruelty case worker for PETA, said that his organization started receiving calls about the case in the first week of October.

When Edwards’ criminal history came to light, he added, the calls doubled.

At the time of Edwards’ indictment, he was on probation for putting a baby in a freezer in North Carolina.

For now, Mersereau said, his organization will watch Dallas County carefully and see how the case progresses.

Greene estimated that an arraignment would occur in January. He estimated that this case would go on trial in the early spring.

Meanwhile, the letters still pour in.