Reported animal abuse in Ashland causes outrage

ASHLAND, Ore.– Reports of a man abusing his dog in Ashland has stirred shock and outrage across social media but some that know the man being accused are standing up in support of him.

At the beginning of the week, eye-witnesses recount seeing a man physically abusing his dog in downtown Ashland. This and calls to the police led to the arrest of James Harold Vickery, 30, a man listed as a transient in police records.

He was booked on one charge of disorderly conduct in the 2nd degree. Police say due to a lack of evidence they couldn’t charge him with animal abuse. In most instances, serious injury to the animal with resounding evidence tying the owner to the abuse would result in a charge.

“A person does have a right to discipline his dog and where that line is, where it crosses from regular discipline of a dog to animal abuse, it’s a difficult line to ascertain,” said Chief Tighe O’Meara, Ashland Police Department.

But according to John Edward Mack, a friend of Vickery, he says it wasn’t abuse.

“As probably his best friend, he wouldn’t intentionally hurt it but you have to discipline dogs sometimes,” said Mack.

However, one eyewitness wrote they saw a man with light, blueish-green tattoos and a hiking backpack “rhythmically just punching his dog in the stomach” and “not playful…hard punches you can easily hear from across the street.”

Mack disagrees with that statement. He says everyone is blowing this incident out of proportion

“I mean there was some physical connection to it but it wasn’t beating it,” he said. “It was submission. You have to put a dog into submission. You have to be the alpha.”

Vickery has since been released and was seen with a dog near downtown Ashland Wednesday afternoon. According to police, the dog was sent an animal shelter and was released to a friend of Vickery. Police say unless there is resounding evidence the dog was seriously injured by its owner, there’s not much they can do.

“We can’t grab that animal and deprive that person of his property and go have an exam done on it,” said Chief O’Meara. “It’s difficult to prove that this person’s actions led to the serious injury and if the serious injury is even there in the first place.”

Police ask that if you witness the abuse of an animal, report it to your local police department. While video evidence can greatly support an investigation, Ashland Police say eye-witness testimony can help as well.

Vickery is scheduled to appear in municipal court next month for the disorderly conduct charge.

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