Joshua Kelly Patterson was booked into the Richmond County Jail this morning on charges of burglary, aggravated cruelty to animals, theft by taking and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Authorities say tips they received led them to arrest Patterson, who was found by police in the 1900 block of Wylds Road.
Kinga Kiss-Johnson, 35, who suffered brain and back injuries while serving in Afghanistan in 2007, told deputies that she left her 3-year-old English Labrador service dog, Balto, at her home in the 2300 block of Gardner Street for about an hour Monday while she ran to the store for dog food. When she returned, she found the dog with a bullet wound to the neck.
Police believe the suspect tried to enter the home through a window and fired shots after being startled by the dog.
“We took it very seriously because of her (Kiss-Johnson), her disabilities and her relationship with that animal,” said Richmond County Investigator Sean Cochran.
Investigators said they haven’t determined whether the suspect is also responsible for an attempted burglary at the home May 3. Another burglary occurred there Jan. 1.
Cochran said the investigation is ongoing.
Veterinarians were not able to remove all the bullet fragments from Balto’s neck. Kiss-Johnson said it has not been determined whether Balto can continue work as a service dog.
Regardless, Kiss-Johnson said, Balto will always have a place in her home.