By Larry Hartstein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A Riverdale man who tied his dog to the back of a pickup truck and dragged the animal up and down his street will appear in magistrate court Tuesday on a felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty, Clayton County authorities said.
The dog, a pit bull-boxer mix named Choker, is recovering at the Clayton County Animal Control Unit. The incident happened early Friday morning, and Choker's owner, John Louis McKinley, was arrested Monday.
"The dog did his best to fight," said Capt. Mark Thompson, the unit commander. "He tried as best as he could to resist the movement of the truck, and it wore the flesh off his feet. He has asphalt burns to his chest, inside his legs and thighs and on the top and bottom of his feet.
"The dog is really an emotional mess right now -- extremely afraid of outsiders -- but seems to have taken real well to us and is responding to treatment," Thompson added. "Way down the road, I'm sure he'll make someone a very good pet."
Right now, however, "the dog has the demeanor of a battered woman," Thompson said.
Neighbors on Bigelow Drive called 911 about 12:30 a.m. Friday, when they saw Choker being dragged.
Animal control officers retrieved the dog from McKinley's home. They issued a citation -- the most they could do at the time -- and turned the investigation over to Thompson, a Clayton County police officer.
As Thompson was preparing to arrest McKinley on Monday, McKinley showed up at the Animal Control Unit, saying he wanted to visit his dog.
McKinley, 57, first insisted he had tied down Choker in the back of the truck and that the dog must have jumped out. McKinley claimed he didn't realize the dog was being dragged, Thompson said.
"I told him, ‘I'm just not buying that,'" Thompson recalled. "He then told me he had just simply lost it, that he was having a bad day. He admitted he had dragged the dog down the street tied to the truck."
McKinley "made references to possible problems within his family that might have contributed to him getting mad," Thompson said. A witness quoted McKinley as saying, "That will teach him to run next time," according to Thompson.
Thompson did not allow McKinley to see Choker.
"I would not let him in the back of my facility, and I told him never to visit here again," Thompson said.
Thompson estimated Choker was dragged up to a quarter-mile.
McKinley was taken to the Clayton County Jail. Bond has not been set.