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Family devastated after beloved dog brutally attacked and killed in neighborhood park

<i>Liesbeth Mackie/WLOS</i><br/>Asheville
Arif, Merieme
Liesbeth Mackie/WLOS

By Kristy Kepley-Steward & Kimberly King

Click here for updates on this story

    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — The Asheville Police Department says a man who eviscerated a dog at a local park Monday afternoon was quickly apprehended and is now facing felony charges.

On Monday, June 26, officers responded to a City of Asheville park on Murdock Avenue at around 3:20 p.m. to investigate a report of a dog being stabbed.

When officers arrived, the dog owner advised officers that while playing pickleball, a man approached her dog, grabbed it by the throat, and started slashing it with a knife unprovoked. The dog succumbed to the injuries sustained on the scene.

A friend of the owner and witness to the attack tells News 13 the dog was a beloved mixed breed named Beignet. Beignet was tethered nearby the courts in a shady area under a park tree, something many players do with their dogs.

Witnesses tell News 13 they heard a commotion and realized Beignet was being violently attacked and stabbed repeatedly.

“My three children, husband and I are devastated, owner Liesbeth Mackie told News 13. “This happened in broad daylight at Weaver Park. My fellow players were just a few feet away, which apparently didn’t scare off Beignet’s assailant.”

Liesbeth’s husband, Tom, tells News 13 the family was at an Asheville Rotary Club ‘Bark in the Park’ event several years ago when they saw a puppy that looked like “a baby lion.” Tom said his family told him “that’s our dog” and immediately adopted the puppy which they’d name Beignet. They later found out Beignet was a mix of multiple breeds, including chihuahua.

On Monday, with the assistance of several community members, police officers quickly located and arrested James Wesley Henry, 43. Henry was charged with felony cruelty to animals.

“He did have some blood on his person,” said Cpt. Sean Aardema with the Asheville Police Department. “The dog was minding its own business and this man heinously attacked it for no reason.”

Henry was booked into the Buncombe County Detention Facility under a $10,000 secured bond.

Police tell News 13 that Henry appears to be unhoused.

A friend of the owners of Beignet says the owners are outraged by what they feel is city leaders role in a lack of leadership to dealing with Asheville’s homelessness crisis head-on.

“When horrific, violent, random crimes happen in the middle of the day, that’s when it gets scary, and that’s what’s happening right now in Asheville,” said Elizabeth Byrd, Beignet’s owner’s friend. “I blame the mayor and city council for not controlling this mentally ill homeless population.”

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