When law enforcement is sent out on a call, it usually involves helping people, but the call that came into the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office the morning of Aug. 17 involved more. Deputy sheriff Kurt Cornett, along with Sgt. Andrew Alvarado and deputy W.L. Spurling, were sent out to a call in Lincolnton that involved a dog that had been allegedly shot by his owner, Jessie Alfred Hoyle, 54.
“Once we arrived on scene, we found out that the suspect had shot his own dog,” said Cornett, who has worked as a deputy sheriff with Lincoln County for the past four years. “Through interviewing the neighbors and the suspect, we found out that he had contacted his neighbor and borrowed a shotgun because he claimed that the dog had jumped on him and attacked him.”
It was evident to Cornett and the other deputies on the scene that the wounds that Hoyle said that the dog, then called Rosco, had caused were likely not caused by a dog his size. Hoyle said that he retreated to safety from Rosco, who was on a chain, and shot the dog with birdshot. After shooting the dog the one time, he returned the firearm to his neighbor and left Rosco to suffer from his wounds.
“While we were on the scene, we contacted animal control because it was technically their case at that point,” Cornett said. “They came out to investigate and essentially gave him the option of either putting the dog down himself or taking it to a veterinarian immediately at his expense.”
Because Rosco was the property of Hoyle, neither the deputy sheriffs nor animal control could put the dog out of his misery themselves. It had to be done by the owner.
“I’m an animal lover and I got tired of sitting around watching the dog bleeding so I called my mom and asked if she could come and pick up the dog,” Cornett said. “She said she could, but the owner would have to sign the dog over.”
Cornett’s mother, Regina London, has been a volunteer with Hartman's Haven, a dog rescue based out of Catawba County, for several years.
Hoyle was very irate while the deputies were at the property because, according to Cornett, he wanted to go back into the house to get another beer. Because there had been a firearm involved, the deputies wouldn’t allow Hoyle to get out of their sight.
“He wanted us to leave and I told him that if he signed over the dog, I’d leave,” Cornett said. “He verbally told his daughter that it was ‘her dog now,’ which we all heard. We then got his daughter to sign the dog over to my mother.”
While this was going on, Rosco was lying on his side, bleeding from his wounds. Cornett could see that his right eye had been damaged.
“You couldn’t really see where he was bleeding from because he was lying on his side,” he said. “For a while he couldn’t even lift his head. He just rolled his eye towards you when you whistled to him.”
When London arrived, they rolled Rosco onto a blanket and put him in the front seat of her car. She brought him immediately to Veterinary Referral Hospital of Hickory to be treated.
That following Tuesday, charges were brought against Hoyle by Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputy Spurling for cruelty to animals and possession of a firearm by a felon. Hoyle was charged with both of these offenses on Aug. 21 and, as of Sunday, was still in the Lincoln County Detention Center under a $20,000 bond. His next court date is Sept. 12.
Throughout the time that London had the severely injured Rosco, who was not muzzled, in her vehicle and he was unloaded on to a stretcher at the emergency hospital, he didn’t show any signs of aggression.
“They took him back to assess him,” London said. “At that time, he couldn’t stand on his own so they started him on IV pain medicine. The next day, he still couldn’t stand on his own, but the doctor thought that might have been due to the pain medicine.”
The veterinarian told London that Rosco was a very good dog and not at all aggressive. On Aug. 20, Rosco was transported to Charlotte Animal Referral and Emergency to have his eye assessed. They found that one of the pellets had gone through his cornea so the eye had to be surgically removed. It was estimated that 50-100 pellets were in his body, which unless they cause him any trouble, will not be removed.
Rosco has since been renamed to Newman and is in foster care until he recovers from his eye surgery.
“Once he recovers, he’ll be neutered and most likely be transported up north to our sister organization in Connecticut to be placed,” London said. “The majority of the dogs that we rescue and foster are sent up north because we’re so overcrowded here. We have approximately, at any given time, 120 to 150 dogs in foster.”
London said that she was impressed with how her son and the rest of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office went out of their way to help Newman.
“The sheriff’s department didn’t have to do anything,” she said. “They could have just let the guy shoot the dog but they went out of their way to reach out to make sure that the dog was rescued. There was no reason for that dog to die.”
To date, veterinarian fees for Newman’s care are close to $3,000. He can be adopted locally through Hartman’s Haven. To donate towards Newman’s veterinary expenses or to adopt him, visit .
“I really appreciate our officers going above and beyond and deputy Cornett definitely did it with getting this dog placed even though it was out of the county,” Sheriff Bill Beam said. “He did a superb job and we appreciate him every day.”