The man accused of shooting as many as 100 BBs or pellets into a dog said he shot the black Labrador-mix dog “behind his house or wherever the dog happened to be while he was extremely intoxicated,” according to a police report.
Aaron Armstrong, 32, of Waldoboro was arrested June 13 after an investigation by Waldoboro Police Detective Jason Benefield.
The young female now known as Lady was found to be riddled with round pellets after Animal Control Officer Laurice Ducharme found her wandering in Waldoboro and brought her to the Lincoln County Animal Shelter.
Armstrong was arrested and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a Class C felony. As of June 18 he was in custody at Two Bridges Regional Jail.
Benefield said citizens told him Armstrong might be the dog’s owner. In his report, Benefield said the suspect was on conditions of release from a previous charge of operating under the influence and that Armstrong said the dog belonged to him.
“Armstrong also surrendered a BB/pellet gun he had hidden in his attic along with containers of BBs and pellets,” Benefield said. “He said the dog was not responding to training and when he drank he became angry with the dog.”
“We were just looking for a dog,” he said June 13 while visiting the shelter.
“We got here late; I think they were just closing up.” Blanton, whose 8-year-old Lab, Quincy, had recently died, looked at a couple of other dogs. “With those two the connection wasn’t instantaneous.”
He said Lady had the same personality as his previous pet, making eye contact and raising her ears. Blanton said she has made herself at home with him and his wife and appears to be well-adjusted.
Blanton is a member of the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary Club and said the shelter is one of the charities supported by that group.
Dr. Dean Domeyer, a veterinarian at Boothbay Animal Hospital said the dog’s condition was first discovered during a routine examination done as part of the shelter’s intake process.
The shelter holds any newly arrived animal for 10 days to allow the owner to come forward. After that time, the animal is examined, neutered and treated for any conditions that are evident.
“We brought her to the vet’s to be spayed and have the bumps on her face and nose checked out,” LCAS Office Manager Carrie Koskela said.” The bumps looked like old scars or bug bites.” An X-ray showed the bumps to be small metal balls embedded in the dog’s skin.
After Blanton adopted the dog, Domeyer removed four of the approximately 80 to 100 balls to determine the material from which they were made. He said the pieces taken from Lady’s nose were BBs made of steel with a thin copper coating.
Domeyer said the remaining BBs would not be likely to have a significant impact on Lady’s health.
“The body will and has absorbed, worn or eaten away the copper coating,” he said. He said reaction to the steel could include inflammation or abscess, and would be treated as problems occur.
“It was really hard to get those four out,” Domeyer said. “The body has really grabbed them.” He said the dog is doing well right now and Blanton does not want to traumatize her with unnecessary procedures.
Domeyer said the initial examination was paid for by LCAS, under a discount agreement for spaying and neutering. The rest of his work was done pro bono, or free of charge.
“It became a curious case,” he said. “It’s a sad case. I wanted to do what I could to help out.”
He said Lady’s was a tragic case with a happy ending.
“It’s been very heartwarming the number of people who have called and how happy everyone feels that things are turning out well,” Domeyer said. “For the few really bad people there are in the world, there are a lot of good people.”
Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde said he has received messages from across the U.S. offering praise for his department’s prompt action in the case. A story about Lady was published on the website of the British newspaper, the Daily Mail and can be seen at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2341201.