A Wilmington puppy’s death last month has sparked calls for tougher animal cruelty laws.
Police allege 21-year-old Christopher Simpson beat his girlfriend’s family dog Axel to death in December. The puppy had recently been adopted by the family, when it was left in Simpson’s care on Christmas, according to multiple media reports.
Simpson told police the dog peed on him and bit him, and so he swatted the puppy on the butt, according to the Wilmington Star News. A veterinarian determined after a necropsy that the dog had been beaten, punched and kicked repeatedly. Axel died from blunt force trauma and internal bleeding, officials said, according to the Port City Daily.
Now activists are hoping Axel’s death leads to change.
Recently, the Facebook group “Justice For Axel,” was created in hopes of bringing awareness to the case, indicating there’ll be some sort of demonstration at Simpson’s next court hearing.
An administrator on the page wrote that the “purpose of this group is to show support to Axel’s family, to raise awareness about animal abuse, advocate justice for Axel’s death and to show our area that animal abuse will not be tolerated!”
Activists would like tougher punishment for animal cruelty cases — an idea shared by New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David.
David told TV station WWAY the most a person would serve if convicted of animal cruelty is 39 months in prison.
“I’ve always said that crimes of violence are the top priority and that includes not only against humans but against animals too,” David told the TV station. “So I would advocate for punishing animal abuse, particularly with malicious intent, more harshly than it currently is.”
Simpson faces felony cruelty to animal charges. His next court appearance is on Feb. 8, according to jail records.
He was previously charged with cruelty to animals in July 2015. That same month, he was also arrested for assaulting a pregnant woman, court records show. Both of those cases were dismissed, according to court records.