published Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Chatsworth man arrested after dog shot

James Yaughn
James Yaughn
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A 68-year-old Chatsworth, Ga., man who put a bullet through a local dog when it stepped on his lawn has been jailed.

James Yaughn has been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and discharging a firearm near a road, records show. Records show Deputy Diane Franklin passed by Yaughn's trailer and saw him dragging a bleeding animal across his yard.

But neighbors say this isn't the first time Yaughn has shot at pet dogs, critters and even the sides of houses.

Shirley Bias has a bullet in the wall of her bedroom where she said Yaughn supposedly shot at an opossum and missed. Two other shots shattered her bathroom window and hit her son's car, she said.

Another time last year, Bias said, her nieces and nephews watched Yaughn shoot another neighbor's pet dog, hitting his jaw. That dog had to be euthanized, she said.

"When you start hearing guns going, I think, "Which couch should I hide behind?'" she said. "Do I feel safe around here? No, I do not."

Franklin, who is director of Murray County Animal Control, said she heard the same complaints about Yaughn this week. But because the sheriff's office just took over animal control May 1, she didn't know of any previous incident reports involving him.

If Yaughn has killed other animals, neighbors could go to the Murray County Magistrate Court to press charges, she said.

Yaughn could not be reached Friday for comment, and it was unclear whether he was still in the Murray County Jail or had been released on bond.

On Wednesday, Franklin said, she was driving by 314 Nightwind Drive, where Yaughn lives, when she watched him dragging a dog that appeared to be dead. A few minutes later, officers got a call that a dog had been hit by a car.

But Franklin said police later discovered that Yaughn was the one who made the call. He later admitted he shot the mixed chow/lab or chow/shepherd with a 5 mm handgun, she said.

He didn't give any defense, and he said the dog wasn't growling and didn't appear threatening, she said.

No one knew who the dog belonged to, but Bias said she had seen it in the neighborhood and in her yard earlier this week.

"He was not a vicious animal," she said. "He was like a big, loving teddy bear."

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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