Local News

Fayetteville Officer Cited for Animal Cruelty

Posted September 17, 2007 5:20 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2007 9:43 p.m. EDT

— A Fayetteville police officer has been cited for animal cruelty in connection with an allegation that puppies were buried alive on his property over the weekend.

John Leggett, 44, has been placed on administrative duty pending investigations by both the Fayetteville Police Department and Cumberland County Animal Control, authorities said. He has been a patrol officer in Fayetteville since 2002.

Animal control officers were called Saturday afternoon to a gated home hidden in the woods off Jackie Hood Lane, about three miles from the Bladen County line, to respond to a report that puppies had been buried alive.

"My understanding is that was the allegation, and by the time animal control officers arrived on the scene, the person making the allegation had dug up the puppies," said Sara VanderClute, a spokeswoman for Cumberland County.

Two coonhound puppies were found dead at the property. Animal Control Director Sue Nicholson declined to say how the dogs died or whether any animals were found buried.

Another seven 1-week-old coonhound puppies, along with their mother, were seized from the property and placed in the care of animal control.

"We are looking for people in our community who would come forward and be willing to adopt these precious animals," Nicholson said.

Authorities said a relative of Leggett was the person who called animal control. The person told authorities that Leggett breeds and trains championship coonhounds.

Animal control officers issued nine civil citations of animal cruelty against Leggett, each carrying a $100 fine. An investigation is under way to determine whether he should face criminal charges.

Leggett was among several Fayetteville officers to receive a Lifesaving Award in May. The award recognizes bravery in the line of duty.