Portsmouth man faces up to 5 years behind bars after 3 beagle puppies die; 4 more seized


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A man is facing more than a half-dozen animal cruelty charges after investigators found a dead dog and several more malnourished behind his home in Portsmouth.

Christopher Shelburne, 47, was arrested on January 16 and charged with 4 counts of animal cruelty, 3 counts of cruelty causing the death of a dog and one charge of disposal of a dead companion animal. 

Charges stem from what an animal control officer found at Shelburne’s residence in the 100 block of Mimosa Road on December 27, 2018. 

Six “beagle type puppies,” some in an “extremely thin” condition, were found living in a backyard kennel that smelled heavily of feces, according to a court records. Nearby lay the body of a “deceased black tan and white beagle type puppy” half buried in leaves in the backyard.

“All the puppies were missing hair, had red blotches on their bodies, and were coughing,” the officer wrote. They also described seeing a “raw deer leg” on the ground by the doghouse.

Shelburne told the animal control officer that he had had the puppies for two weeks and had not gotten them to the vet yet.

“‘It’s Christmas, and money is kind of tight,’ is the explanation Shelburne gave, according to documents.

The six living and the one deceased puppy were seized by the city and taken to the vet, where they were all found to have hookworms and skin infections, according to investigators. Two additional puppies died. 

Shelburne wouldn’t answer questions when contacted by 10 On Your Side. Neighbors said he no longer lives in the home he rented.

“I heard dogs crying there,” said Eric Wade, whose daughter-in-law lives a few doors down.

I’ve actually thought about going over there and saying something before. Now I wish I would have.”

Another neighbor, who didn’t wish to be identified, said he believed Shelburne was raising the dogs to help him hunt.

Shelburne is expected in court February 20th. If convicted he faces 1 to 5 years behind bars. 

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