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Riverdale man charged with animal cruelty

By Pureterrah Witcher

pwitcher@news-daily.com

John Louis McKinley, 57, of Riverdale, appeared in Clayton County Magistrate Court Tuesday on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals, after allegedly tying his dog to a pick-up truck and dragging the animal up and down the street.

According to court records, McKinley received a bond of $7,000, and a preliminary hearing date was set for Aug. 5. He was still being held in the Clayton County Jail as of late Tuesday, according to jail officials.

The dog, named Choker, a pit bull-boxer mix, had sustained serious disfigurement to his feet and chest that required emergency surgery, according to the Clayton County Animal Control unit, where the dog is being housed.

Animal Control commander, Capt. Mark Thompson, said Choker is currently recovering after receiving intensive treatment for deep asphalt burns.

"Choker's wounds had to be irrigated, which means our veterinarians had to wash out the asphalt and loose gravel trapped beneath his skin," Thompson said. "They used a special saline solution to remove it, and then disinfected the wound. He was in so much pain they had to sedate him," he said.

"He had burns to his chest, legs and feet, on both the top and bottom. From the looks of it, he had to be flipping and turning while being dragged."

Along with Choker, authorities say two other dogs were taken out of McKinley's custody -- one, a full grown pit bull, and the other, a small, black pug-mix. Authorities say one of the dogs had been missing and the other was severely ill.

"The pit bull actually belonged to McKinley's neighbor," Thompson said. "We returned him to his rightful owner on yesterday. The little, black pug-mix dog was very lethargic and had Cherry Eye. He just felt awful. He was so ill that we had to put him to sleep."

Thompson said residents in McKinley's Bigelow Drive neighborhood had called 911 when they saw Choker being dragged up the street.

After finding probable cause to take the dogs on Friday, Animal Control issued McKinley two citations -- one for prohibited treatment of an animal, and the other for not having Choker tagged showing proof of a rabies vaccination, according to Thompson.

The following day, the investigation was later turned over to Thompson, who obtained a warrant for McKinley's arrest. McKinley was arrested and charged on Monday.

Surprisingly, police say they did not have to go and get McKinley, he came to them. "On Monday, he came to visit the dog," Thompson said. "I was actually preparing to go out and arrest him. Honestly, I think he came to test the waters -- see how much trouble he's in, or if he was in any trouble at all," said Thompson.

"I invited him into my office. I listened to his side of the story, and he admitted to dragging the dog. He said that he has anger issues, and has been having some trouble at home. I told him that I understood all that, but he was under arrest."

No attorney was listed for McKinley in online court records on Tuesday.