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Plea agreement reached in animal cruelty case in Roanoke

Plea agreement reached in animal cruelty case in Roanoke

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A Roanoke man charged with animal cruelty for the treatment and death of his household’s dog will serve three weekends in jail.

The sentence, reached in a plea agreement, represents one weekend of time for every day that an ailing German shepherd was said to have languished without medical care, authorities said.

Michael Eugene Everson Jr., 43, told others at the time that he couldn’t afford veterinary treatment or euthanization for the dog who he described in court as a beloved pet of 11 years.

He ended up putting down the animal himself, using an arrow and a crossbow, after his ex-wife saw the dog’s condition and confronted him last March, said assistant prosecutor Joshua Dietz, who offered a summary of the case during a hearing Tuesday.

“Had this gone to trial, this would have been an emotional case for all parties involved,” Dietz said.

Everson reportedly told his ex that the aging dog had suffered a stroke about three days earlier. An examination would later find it was severely underweight and had an infested wound on its underside.

His ex-wife, upset, urged him to take the dog to a vet and euthanize it if needed to end its suffering, Dietz said. She later called animal control, he said, which responded the next day and discovered the dog had been put down.

In court Tuesday, Everson said he cared for his dog and did something that was difficult but at the time seemed needed.

“It was not something I enjoyed doing. It was not something I wanted to do. He was my pet,” Everson said. “... He was suffering, and I couldn’t let him do that anymore.”

Dietz said the case was a poor example of how to handle an ill pet, and there were more humane options available.

On Tuesday, Everson pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanor animal cruelty, amended from an original charge of felony animal cruelty.

In keeping with a plea agreement, Roanoke Circuit Judge David Carson sentenced him to 12 months, suspended after 12 days.

With credit for good behavior, his active jail sentence will be six days, attorneys said, which he’ll be allowed to serve on weekends.

He must also pay a fine of $500. That figure was based on the estimated cost of the veterinary care that the dog did not receive, Dietz said.

Everson will be on probation for the next year. Under the plea agreement, he’s barred from having another pet during that time.

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