By APRILE RICKERT
News and Tribune
CLARKSVILLE, IN (NEWS AND TRIBUNE) - Police in southern Indiana are searching for a man accused of animal cruelty after a December video was shot of him allegedly throwing a brick at a dog missing from Louisville.
A warrant has been issued for Joe M. Ware, 20, following an investigation by the Clarksville Police Department into the alleged crime. The dog suffered what appeared to be minor injuries and has since been reunited with his owner.
"As prosecutor I simply will not tolerate someone being mean to an animal, especially an animal who is posing no threat or harm or risk to anyone," Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said. "This is not a case where this animal was doing anything that would warrant the meanness and the cruelty that was displayed."
According to court records, the investigation started when officers responded to Beckett Street Apartments in Clarksville Dec. 10 on an animal complaint.
Once there, a witness told police he saw a man pick up the dog, a white pit bull or boxer mix, and throw him through the front door of the apartment. When the dog tried to climb back up onto the porch, the man then kicked him, "field goal style," off the porch before throwing a brick.
The witness started recording video and was able to show police the footage of the brick throwing. "At no time did the dog appear to be aggressive," the records state.
When police went to the apartment shown in the video, a woman, Destynee Dunn, initially told officers that the dog had shown up on her porch whimpering and she felt sorry for him. When he became aggressive after a few days, a man removed it from the residence, she said.
Dunn allegedly gave a different name to police, but following the investigation in which they identified the man in the video as Ware, and social media posts showed that he was in a relationship with Dunn, she was further questioned.
This time, Dunn told police that the dog had started to follow Ware while he was in Louisville near Dixie Highway, and that he felt bad for him and decided to bring the animal home with him to Indiana.
She said the dog was nice at first but then got aggressive toward another dog at the house. When Dunn tried to pull his collar back, he tried to bite her. She then called Ware to tell him what happened; he came over and walked the dog outside, and picked up the brick to threaten him when he wouldn't leave.
Dunn told police that Ware didn't throw the brick and that "nobody hurt the dog in any way," according to court records. She also said she didn't know where Ware was now.
Following the incident, the dog ran away where it was picked up by a neighbor and taken to Clarksville animal control before being transported to the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter. That is where the owner and dog were reunited.
Ware faces a level 6 felony for attempted mutilation of an animal, for allegedly throwing the brick. He also faces two class A misdemeanors for animal cruelty -- one for allegedly kicking the dog and one for abandonment.
Mull mentioned that at times, there can be a correlation between crimes against animals and other violent crimes.
"Certainly there's a lot of studies that show that individuals that mistreat animals often times commit other violent crimes later on," he said. "In this case, the fact that this animal was defenseless and that he would perpetrate these acts of cruelty on it is definitely a situation [that] in my view needs an intervention. There needs to be rehabilitation so there is less of a worry that anything might happen down the road."
Mull said he intended to prosecute Ware to the fullest extent of the law. He was released form Clark County Jail on Dec. 22 for an unrelated charge, before this case's investigation was completed. He also had a hold from Richland County, Ohio.
"As a dog lover, as somebody who appreciates dogs, I know that these animals in general just want to please, to be loved," Mull said. "To see these acts of cruelty perpetrated upon it is heartbreaking. That's just not the sort of thing as a community or society that we can let happen without a consequence."
Court records also show that police intended to seek a charge against Dunn for false informing. No charges were found in online court records by press time.
Anyone with information in this case should contact the Clarksville Police Department at 812-288-7151.