Puppy thrown twice off Harlan bridge

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Animal control officials call it a heinous crime. Harlan Police have charged a man with animal cruelty in the first degree after they said he threw a puppy off a bridge, twice!

Police said it was an odd series of events that led to them charging Jerry Russel.

Among all the dogs at the Harlan County Animal Shelter, one in particular they call Lucky.

"We figure if one has to be lucky to survive it the first time, she's got to be really lucky to survive it the second time," said Duncan Caldwell, with Harlan County Animal Control.

"We heard a splash and looked, and somebody had thrown something in the river," said John Northern, who rescued the puppy.

Northern and Ginger Witt were walking under a bridge in Harlan Tuesday night, when they saw the puppy land in the water.

"I thought about not jumping in the river, but we started calling for it. And we saw it was alive; I couldn't let it just float down the river," said Northern.

Lucky survived. And now Jerry Russel sits in jail, facing cruelty to animals charges.

Harlan Police already had him in custody. Russel allegedly stole a woman's dog, after she gave him a puppy.

"Lo and behold, the pup that she had given him was located coming off the bridge," said Mike Thomas, Harlan Police Chief.

"Especially when we have rescue efforts here to save the lives of these animals, for someone to make that decision is totally heinous," said Caldwell.

Although a bit rattled at the time, Lucky is now doing just fine.

"It was shaking and yelling when it had been thrown in and hit something. It was sore," said Northern.

That as her alleged abuser sits in jail, charged with trying to harm what some would consider - a fearless face.

The Harlan County Animal Shelter said Lucky will not be adoptable in the near future, because of the charges pending. But they do hope to eventually allow someone in the community to adopt her.

Jerry Russel declined our request for a jailhouse interview.

Donations for Lucky can be sent to Friends of the Shelter, P.O. Box 778, Baxter, KY, 40806.

The Harlan County Animal Shelter is located at 394 Highway 840, Baxter, KY, 40806. You can call them at (606) 573-8867.

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