STAFFORD, Va. (WRIC) — A Stafford man who beat his dogs won’t serve any time for the cruel crime but he is facing a life-long sentence.
Christopher John Turner can never own another animal.
That was the sentence handed down Tuesday after the long-time firefighter was caught on camera whipping his three dogs with an electrical cord.
Turner’s neighbor captured it all on her cell phone. The video is dark and grainy but the dogs’ whimpers are clear.
“To hear them crying and yelping it just broke my heart,” says Angella Fuller.
Back in April, Fuller recorded her neighbor on his back deck beating the dogs. She says it wasn’t the first time.
Explains Fuller, “I videoed it hoping that at least the audio, if I turned that over to animal control would be a reason for them to investigate and see what was going on.”
Stafford County Animal Control investigated.
The case went to circuit court.
The video was a convincing piece of evidence.
“You can hear him yelling at the dogs and you can hear the cracking of what’s sounds like a whip type thing,” says Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Lindsey, “You hear the dogs instantaneously just yelping out in pain.”
On Tuesday, Turner pleaded guilty to three counts of providing inadequate care and treatment for his dogs Duchess, Summer and Tank.
He could have served as much as 3 months for the crimes, but instead, the judge suspended the jail time.
Instead, he ordered Turner to never own or live with another animal.
It was a trade-off that also enabled the court to ensure the three dogs wouldn’t go home with the defendant.
“What mattered most to us was getting those dogs away from him and making sure he could never own animals again,” explains Lindsey, “Really the star of this case is the neighbor who had the guts to come forward.”
“I don’t know about being a hero,” says Fuller, “but I do know that they’re safe and loved now and that is what we wanted.
The plea agreement also orders Turner to pay $600 in restitution to the shelter where the dogs spent months while his court case played out.
Duchess, Summer and Tank are now in foster care through Bully Paws Rescue. Director Candice Owens says the dogs will eventually be put up for adoption.