Local News

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

Posted January 23, 2015 4:40 p.m. EST
Updated January 23, 2015 6:22 p.m. EST

— 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.