ELKINS - A man was charged with animal cruelty Saturday after allegedly striking his dog in the head multiple times in public in downtown Elkins.
Harry Fielding Blackburn, Jr., 49, of Elkins, was charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and is currently being held at Tygart Valley Regional Jail. Bond was set at $800 cash only by Randolph County Magistrate Ben Shepler.
According to the criminal complaint, Sgt. C.D. Cross of the Elkins Police Department responded to the area of First Street and Davis Avenue in reference to a male, later identified as Blackburn, "staggering in and out of traffic while dragging a dog on a leash."
Upon arrival to the scene, Cross observed Blackburn standing in the Gino's Pizza and Spaghetti House parking lot near the front of the business. While pulling into the parking lot Cross "observed Harry staggering while walking into Gino's," the complaint states.
Cross observed a woman in front of the business who was holding Blackburn's dog by the leash as he went inside. Cross escorted Blackburn to his police cruiser and had him take a seat inside the vehicle while he spoke to the female subject about the dog, the police report states.
The woman told Cross "she is an employee of Gino's and while sitting outside smoking a cigarette, Harry approached the business with the dog and had a seat on the landscaped area next to her," and that "she was outside with Harry for approx (sic) 10 minutes during which time she observed Harry strike his dog about the head with his hand over 7 times," the complaint states.
The woman said in order to get the dog away from Blackburn she "offered to buy him a pizza and give him 5 dollars (sic) for beer," at which point Blackburn let her hold the dog while he went into Gino's.
Cross placed Blackburn under arrest for cruelty to animals and contacted the Randolph County E-911 office to have the Humane Officer respond and take possession of the dog. The 911 center advised Cross that the Humane Officer was on vacation and was not available, at which time the woman said she would take possession of the dog until other arrangements could be worked out, according to the complaint.