Man charged with aggravated cruelty after dog found riddled with BBs

Posted June 13, 2013, at 6:46 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 16, 2013, at 4:13 p.m.

WALDOBORO, Maine — Police on Thursday arrested a Waldoboro man who they say shot a young black Lab with as many as 100 BBs.

Aaron Armstrong, 32, was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals at approximately 2:20 p.m., Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde said Thursday evening.

Throughout the day Wednesday and Thursday, police conducted what Labombarde described as an “enthusiastic” investigation into who shot the Lab — since named Lady by her new owner.

Lady was discovered by Waldoboro Animal Control Officer Laurice Ducharme near Orffs Corner 10 days ago and was taken to the Lincoln County Animal Shelter in Edgecomb, according to Carrie Koskela, shelter officer manager.

Initially the dog showed no signs of mistreatment, although shelter attendants were curious about what looked like bug bites or dog acne on her nose.

When South Bristol resident Peter Blanton expressed interest in adopting the Lab, she was taken to the Boothbay Animal Hospital to be spayed.

Veterinarian Dean Domeyer discovered 80 to 100 BBs on X-rays.

“This dog is riddled with BB shots from her nose to her tail,” Koskela said.

Blanton said that when he met his new dog, “It was love at first sight.”

He visited several animal shelters last Friday, a week after he and his wife put their 8-year-old Lab to sleep, because he missed having a dog in the house, he said Thursday. At the Lincoln County shelter, he said, “All the other dogs were jumping up and down and making loud noises, but [Lady] was looking at me, her paw in her eyes, and she had her ears up trying to figure out who I was. Something about her movements reminded me of our old dog.”

Blanton said that when he saw the X-rays, Lady “looked like something out of a war movie.”

He said his new dog is fortunate because, although her body and face — even her eyelids — are covered with scars from the BBs, her eyes were spared and the vet told him no vital organs seem to have been hit.

While the vet originally planned not to remove the BBs because that process would be more traumatic than leaving them in, Blanton said that after concerns were raised that the BBs might be made of lead, the vet will remove a few from the dog’s snout to examine them.

Labombarde said Thursday that he, his detective and another officer formed a perimeter around the Orffs Corner location where Lady was found “and went door to door, knocking on doors and talking to people. We asked people, ‘Have you ever seen this dog?’ It all led to the same house.”

A former animal control officer and dog lover, Labombarde said that in more than 20 years of police work he has never seen a case like this.

Blanton said he doesn’t understand who would have shot a dog with a BB gun, but wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to another canine.

“I feel very fortunate that we got a wonderful dog and she’ll be OK, but I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” he said. “I assume the person [who shot Lady] had a problem -– I don’t know what it was, but I hope they can figure out how to handle their problems and that they don’t do this again.”

Koskela said the story does have “a really good ending. [Lady] is super happy, and her new owner loves her dearly.”

Armstrong was taken to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset. His bail amount was not available on Thursday.