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Albemarle Man Faces Animal Cruelty Charges After Dogs Left in Co - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Albemarle Man Faces Animal Cruelty Charges After Dogs Left in Cold

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va (WVIR) -
When the weather turned bitterly cold there were lots of warnings about protecting your pets and making sure they were either inside or had proper shelter.

Friday, a Covesville man is facing charges of neglecting to care for his animals during this week's cold weather and now, three of his dogs - one pregnant - have been seized until the case gets heard in court.

Eric Fulando Johnson, 48, is being charged with three counts of animal cruelty. Animal control officers found his three dogs outside his home on one of the coldest nights this winter.

Albemarle animal patrol officers were called to Johnson's home Tuesday after they received a call about dogs left out in the cold. When animal control officers arrived at the home along  Murrays Lane in Covesville, they found the three dogs outside in 13-degree weather. Their only drinking water was frozen. 

"It became an issue of animal safety, and so the officer made the decision to go ahead and take those animals," said Carter Johnson, spokesperson for Albemarle County police.

A veterinarian at the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA says one of the dogs needed immediate care.

"One of them is pregnant and it would make sense that it's even harder for her to be out in the cold and have challenges because she has all that energy going to her babies," said Dr. Kristen Scheller, Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA veterinarian.

It is state law and county code that pet owners must have adequate shelter for animals - but not providing shelter for his dogs isn't the only thing Eric Johnson is charged with; he is also being charged for failure to vaccinate the dogs for rabies and failure to obtain a dog license.

Police say Johnson faces fines between $25 to $250 dollars for each class four misdemeanor offense. He can also face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine for the class one misdemeanors.

All three dogs are being held at the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA until Johnson's court hearing  in Albemarle General District Court on January 15. A judge will decide if Johnson gets his dogs back.

Dr. Scheller says the dogs are currently in good condition.
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