A 31-year-old man has been charged in the shooting of an Army veteran’s service dog during a break-in at her home Monday night on Gardner Street.
Joshua Kelly Patterson was booked into the Richmond County jail Friday morning on charges of burglary, aggravated cruelty to animals, theft by taking and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Authorities say tips they received led them to arrest Patterson, who was found by police in the 1900 block of Wylds Road. The investigation continues.
Kinga Kiss-Johnson, 35, who suffered brain and back injuries while serving in Afghanistan in 2007, told deputies that she had left her 3-year-old English Labrador service dog, Balto, at home in the 2300 block of Gardner Street for about an hour Monday while she went to the store for dog food.
When she returned, she found the dog with a bullet wound in his neck. Police believe the burglar tried to enter the home through a window and fired shots after being startled by the dog.
“We took it very seriously because of her (Kiss-Johnson), her disabilities and her relationship with that animal,” said Richmond County Investigator Sean Cochran.
Veterinarians were not able to remove all the bullet fragments from Balto’s neck. It has not been determined whether Balto can continue his work as a service dog.