A Fort Bragg soldier who used parachute cord to tie his eight-month old Lab-mix puppy’s hind legs and forelegs to the dog’s muzzle, and then drowned the animal was sentenced in a Fayetteville courtroom on September 27. Multiple local and military sources reported on the case of Riley, whose drowned corpse washed up on the shore of McFayden Lake in Fayetteville in January, 2015.
Riley belonged to John Garrett Burrow, 22, and his wife, Kelsey, 20. In a television story that aired when the Burrows were arrested, neighbors said that the two had started a social media funding account asking for help for veterinary bills for Riley, for what they thought was a broken leg. WRAL reported that nearly $3000 was raised.
While John Burrow was charged with throwing the bound dog into the lake, the Fayette Observer reported that “Kelsey Burrow, 21, the soldier’s wife, awaits judgment for misdemeanor accessory after the fact for false Facebook accounts saying the dog died during surgery to repair a broken leg as part of a Go-Fund-Me money solicitation to pay for the surgery cost [Defense Attorney David] Courie said was about $2,500.”
Representatives from various animal shelter organizations in the Fayetteville area emphasized that anyone who is worried about not being able to afford to pay vet bills have alternatives: animals can be taken to local humane societies, who will work with owners on a number of options for the animals.
Many have reacted to the cruelty of the death. Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons handed down a sentence that will remind Burrow of what he did. In addition to receiving 30 days in jail, 100 hours of community service, and 2 years of probation, the judge ordered Burrow to carry a photo of Riley in his wallet for the duration of his probation. In addition, Burrow won’t be able to own pets for five years as part of the plea agreement. Kelsey Burrow still awaits sentencing on the misdemeanor charges.
“He was a young soldier. He couldn’t afford that. He was angry and frustrated with himself he couldn’t financially handle it,” Courie had offered as explanation for why Burrow drowned the dog.
“What you did was horrible,” Ammons told the soldier. “Absolutely horrible. I don’t want this to be the ruination of your life, but I hope Riley’s legacy will bring awareness to animal abuse. There’s way too much abuse of animals. Animals need to be treated humanely.”
Burrow continually said, “I’m sorry.” He said, “I will do my best to make it right,” the soldier told the judge. “I was wrong for what I did. Riley’s life did matter. It mattered to me.”