SLIDELL, La. — A Slidell man has been arrested for simple cruelty to animals after pictures posted on social media created a firestorm over allegations that he dragged his canine to death, according to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office says 50-year-old Willis Brailey is being charged for the neglectful death of his dog, but investigators determined it was an accident and that Brailey was distraught over the dog’s death.
Brailey turned himself into authorities to give his side of the story, which was quite different than the allegations being made on social media, the sheriff’s office said.
The case received a lot of media attention after the Humane Society of Louisiana sent a press release that included photos of the dead dog and Brailey.
Brailey told investigators he took his two dogs for a ride, which he often does, and put them on a leash inside the bed of his pickup truck. What Brailey didn’t know is that one of his dogs jumped out of the pickup truck while he was driving down Highway 190 in Slidell.
Brailey was flagged down by several people, prompting him to pull over at a nearby gas station.
Brailey discovered his dog was dead and was very distraught, but was faced with an angry person accusing him of “murdering” his dog, according to authorities.
Brailey told investigators that the situation became intense, causing him to leave the scene and his dog behind.
Brailey immediately went home and called Slidell Animal Control in order to report the incident and to have his deceased dog picked up. Slidell Animal Control was closed because it was Sunday evening, but Brailey left a message with his name and phone number.
When asked why Brailey did not pick up the deceased dog himself, he indicated he was physically unable to do so, which was why he contacted Slidell Animal Control. Contrary to reports made on social media, there were no other passengers in the vehicle with Brailey.
Investigators were able to confirm Brailey’s version of events by speaking with multiple witnesses and by verifying the claims that Brailey told detectives.
Although ruled an accident, the fact that Brailey’s dog died due to neglectfully placing the dog in the rear of a pickup truck prompted authorities to charge him with simple cruelty to animals.
It’s not against the law to have an animal in the rear of a truck, the sheriff’s office said, but the safety of the animal can still be considered a criminal matter if something happens to the animal.
The dog’s body was sent to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine for a necropsy to confirm the cause of death and conclude the investigation.
St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith said he hopes this incident brings awareness to the dangers of placing an animal in the rear of a pickup truck.