Local News

Outraged neighbors say they put up money for drowned puppy's medical expenses

Posted January 23, 2015

— Animal advocates and neighbors expressed outrage Friday over allegations that a Fort Bragg soldier and his wife tossed an 8-month-old puppy in a Fayetteville lake to drown.

John Garrett Burrow, 22, of 440 Georgetown Circle in Fayetteville, was arrested Thursday on a felony charge of cruelty to animals. His wife, Kelsey Caroline Burrow, 20, faces a misdemeanor charge of being an accessory after the fact.

Cumberland County authorities allege that John Burrow used parachute cord to tie together the legs of a Labrador mix known as Riley and then wrapped the cord around the dog's nose before dumping the animal in McFayden Lake.

Riley's carcass washed ashore on Jan. 2.

Investigators said Riley had been injured, and the Burrows said they couldn't afford the veterinarian bills.

Neighbor Ashley Vuotto said she was disgusted when she heard that excuse, noting that she and others reached out through social media to help the couple.

"They had created (a website) to get the dog fixed because, I guess, it had a broken leg or something wrong with its claws, something along those lines," Vuotto said. "People ended up donating over like $3,000."

John Burrow was wearing civilian clothes when he made his first court appearance Friday afternoon. He asked for a court-appointed lawyer, but the request was denied.

Debbie Williams, president of the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society, was in court as Burrow faced the judge and said her group would have taken Riley if the couple couldn't afford to keep it.

"It's just a very, very unfortunate, sickening end to Riley's life," Williams said. "Let's pull together and see what we can do put an end to this type of cruelty."

Vuotto said the Burrows had several options short of killing Riley if the money raised online wasn't enough to care for the dog.

"You can take it to a shelter. There were so many people who had reached out to them on those sites in regards to fostering the dog and helping them find a new home for the dog," she said. "That they throw it in a pond when they had so many options is just absolutely sick and disgusting."

Lyndon Spears, manager of The Haven - Friends for Life animal shelter in Hoke County, where the Burrows adopted Riley, said a standard provision in adoption contracts allows people to return animals for which they can no longer care.

John and Kelsey Burrow are free on bond. The judge ordered John Burrow not to have any pets while he awaits trial.


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  • Barbara Sheppard Jan 26, 2015
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    Being Christian doesn't make you perfect. Christ got angry. There is nothing wrong with being angry. And just because someone is angry doesn't mean they won't forgive.

  • Barbara Sheppard Jan 26, 2015
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    View quoted thread


  • 678devilish Jan 26, 2015

    If they put money up to help and save this dog, why are the neighbors still outraged. Where is the forgiveness as Jesus forgives all of us? I guess they forget that part. Also they are not perfect and have done hideous things themselves that they may want to be forgiven for. Move on and pray.

  • paddie Jan 26, 2015

    BEALZEBUB, I roll my eyes when I read letters like yours. The dog was injured and then hog tied. This isn't torture to you? Imagine yourself with a broken femur being hog tied, then thrown into a pond...These people deserve every bit of piling on and more. whether or not we are hypocrites, dogs are companion animals, hence the laws against acts of cruelty. There are always the letters such as yours complaining about people being upset over the killing of a dog as if the people writing letters do not care about other atrocities. We do, Where is it written that one cannot have compassion for more than one tragedy? Also, I have the right to direct my compassion where I see fit. I really do not care if you find it hypocritical.

  • Barbara Slobodzian Jan 26, 2015
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    What a despicable act!

  • Mary Zulch Jan 25, 2015
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    I feel this couple had many choices. They made the wrong choice. Soo...where did the 3000 dollars go to? I only hope they are legally never allowed to own a pet dog, cat, canary, any other living creature again. I can also say, they should never have children. Those poor kids will be abused and neglected by these sad examples of humanity. I wish them nothing good.

  • Christopher Rose Jan 25, 2015
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    I kind of roll my eyes when I read the way people pile on people like this. Most of which eat meat and eggs and dairy and have never visited a factory farm or slaughterhouse. My point being that hypocrites abound. The only reason this is so awful is they have chosen to anthropomorphasize certain animals to human like status as pets. This dog lived and died more pleasantly than most farm animals. I don;t advocate cruelty to animals, but this wasn't like the dog was tortured. And is no different than what many animal shelters do every day to animals who aren't injured! What I'm saying is this is bad but NO it does not make them demons. Its a strange society that will elevate some dogs to more privileged status than some humans. I see pet dogs regularly treated better then some poor or homeless human beings.

  • paddie Jan 25, 2015

    ARKANGELS, you are right on all counts. Especially about the military protecting him. Seen it time and time again.

  • ArkAngels Jan 25, 2015

    If my memory serves me correctly, for each person that donated money for this puppy's medical bills, that is 1 count of wire fraud that the couple can be charged with.

    So let's pile on whatever chargeable crimes they can be charged with and get them off the street for good!

    Unfortunately the laws in this state will do nothing to them for what they did and the Army certainly will do nothing to him either.

  • cuffslover Jan 25, 2015

    This is horrible! I am sadly not surprised to see that The Haven was involved in this and they may say they will allow them to bring the pet back but it is untrue. So many other credible places in Fayetteville but The Haven is not one of them.