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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Farmer not guilty of animal cruelty
Glade Hill man shot dogs to ‘protect his calves’
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John Lumsden

Monday, March 4, 2013

By KEN BRADLEY - Staff Writer

A Glade Hill farmer was found not guilty of animal cruelty Friday in Franklin County Circuit Court for shooting two dogs that were chasing his calves.

John Shelton Lumsden, 49, pleaded not guilty to four animal cruelty charges during a trial that lasted three hours.

The dogs were wounded but were not killed.

After hearing testimony from four witnesses for the prosecution and two defense witnesses, Circuit Court Judge W.N. Alexander II said the case boiled down to the fact that only Lumsden and Michelle Breeden, the owner of two dogs that were shot, actually know what happened.

"Mrs. Breeden knows what she saw and Mr. Lumsden knows what he did," Alexander said.

But the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge added.

"There was no reason for Mr. Lumsden to get up in the middle of the night without reason," Alexander said. "I find that the defendant is not guilty of the charges."

Testimony in the case showed that Lumsden's dogs began barking around 11 p.m. on Dec. 4, causing Lumsden to get out of bed.

He got dressed, grabbed his shotgun and three shells, got in his truck and drove to his barn, where he heard the dogs barking, Lumsden said.

He said two dogs were chasing his young calves in a corral, and he shot and wounded them to protect his animals.

However, Breeden, who lives across the road from Lumsden and rents a home from him, said she heard gunshots about 11 p.m. and went outside. She said Lumsden's barn was lit up and she saw Lumsden shoot one of her dogs, and her other dog had also been shot.

Breeden claimed that Lumsden shot one of her dogs in her front yard, but Lumsden denied the accusation.

Breeden also testified that she did not confront Lumsden about her dogs being shot, but she called the humane society and assumed they notified the sheriff's office.

During the investigation, Lumsden told authorities at first that he did not shoot the dogs, but later he admitted that he lied after learning that he had a right to shoot dogs that were chasing or attacking his farm animals.

Dr. Raymond Novak, a large animal veterinarian, testified that when cattle are chased by dogs, it can be extremely harmful to cattle and can cause death. He said they get exhausted and can go into cardiac arrest and die.

Novak also testified that he has known Lumsden for about 20 years and has known him to be truthful and law abiding and is an excellent caretaker of his animals, including his pets.

Lumsden testified that he has taken in several stray dogs and cats that have shown up on his farm.

About 45 farmers and Lumsden's neighbors attended the trial.

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