Man faces felony theft charge for sheltering stray dog

Man faces felony theft charge for sheltering stray dog
Photo provided by Kyle Wayne Holmes.
All About Animals

POSTED: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 2:34pm

UPDATED: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 9:44am

An act of compassion landed an East Feliciana man with warrant for his arrest on a felony theft charge. It all started when he found a stray dog on his property.

“I live on 26 acres of land. I don’t have too many neighbors, so when the dog showed up, I started contacting all of them,” Kyle Wayne Holmes explained. “We kept the dog for about 48 hours. There was no identification on him. He had a collar on, but there were no tags. He was very malnourished, so we fed him and bathed him.”

Holmes knew the purebred mastiff belonged to someone, so he called the local vet and turned to social media for answers. Knowing that he was soon to go out of town for a week-long hunting trip, he asked for help on Facebook.

“I posted a picture of the dog on Facebook and asked if anyone would be willing to take care of the dog while I was out of town,” Holmes said. “My friend Lori [who lives in Watson] agreed to take him.”

While Holmes was away on his trip, he received a text message from one of the neighbors he originally contacted when the dog wandered up on his property.

“My neighbor said that they may know who the owner of the dog is,” Holmes said. “I got a call from the guy who was claiming to be the owner. I tried to call back, but I got no answer. The next day he called again and left another message. Then on May 15, I got a call from a Sheriff’s deputy.”

The East Feliciana Sheriff’s deputy informed Holmes that the owner of the dog had filed a complaint against him.

“I called the Sheriff’s officer back and explained what happened,” Holmes said. “He told me that the whole thing sounded like a big misunderstanding.”

However, there was one complication. The dog has gone missing, again.

“Two days after I gave the dog to my friend, it got out of her fence and no body knows where it went,” Holmes said. “We were just trying to help a homeless dog and now I’m being charged with a felony saying that I stole this animal.”

The three page arrest warrant goes into all of the details in the investigation. It notes that the complainant admitted to allowing his dogs to run loose on his property so they can gain exercise. It also lists at least four reasons why this is being constituted as theft.

“First, it says that he let the dog go inside the house, so the owner couldn’t find it if it was in the house,” Philip House with the Baton Rouge law firm Manasseh, Gill, Knipe and Belanger, said. “Second, it says that he only put the missing notice on his Facebook account, which he did not have access to because they are not friends. It adds that he only contacted one vet and only spoke to his neighbors about it. Third, it says that he gave the dog away, which shows that he never had the intent of returning it. And finally, it says that when he originally texted the owner, he gave him the wrong number.”

For those reasons, the complainant believes Holmes stole his dog. Because the animal cost more than $500, the felony charge was applied.

“In all my years as both a prosecutor and defender, I’ve never seen a felony arrest for someone taking in and giving away a stray dog,” House said. “What is the public policy on this? Are they saying that he should have let the dog run loose? What are they saying? What should he have done?”

East Feliciana does not have a parish run animal control agency. That responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Sheriff’s office. Holmes was told that he should have called the agency when the dog ended up on his property. However, the local animal rescue shelter told NBC33 News that they have never been instructed of that policy.

“We put up flyers when we find a stray dog,” Irene Laniere, a volunteer who works with the Feliciana Animal Welfare Society, said. “We usually go to houses in the area and try to locate the owners. We go to the vets offices. A lot of times social media comes into play. We don’t routinely get the Sheriff involved, unless there is some form of abuse or neglect.”

So where did Holmes go wrong?

“According to them, the dog was microchipped,” Holmes said. “I don’t know that to be true. So I was told that was what I was supposed to do. I was told I should have reported it to the Sheriff and then take it to a vet to be checked for a microchip.”

On Tuesday, May 28, Holmes turned himself in to the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office for the outstanding warrant. The judge allowed him to sign out rather than having to pay a bond.

“Bond exists for two reasons; either you’re a flight risk, or you’re a danger,” House said. “My client is neither of those things. He has no previous experience with the law.”

The case will be turned over to the District Attorney’s office for review. If it is determined to be legitimate, Holmes will face a judge again on July 9.

“Even if you accept the detective’s rendition of the facts, I still don’t know where you get to a crime being committed,” House said.

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Comments News Comments

There is two sides to this story. Never believe what you read in the news, if both parties haven't given their story. in fact I believe the guy that had this dog, was trying to keep him and never planned on returning him, until it got to the point that the sheriff's office did receive the information needed to arrest this guy. It doesn't matter who he works for or that he is a state trooper, it was his DOG....... remember there is two sides to every story.....

If this is the Kyle Holmes that I think it is....I used to be his neighbor. He is an amazing person that would NEVER hurt a fly, nor steal a thing. I think that the only crime here was his heart was too big and he did a good thing. If the dog could get out of the OWNERS "fence", why couldn't it happen to someone who did not own a dog of that magnitude? This whole thing is ridiculous. You have $500+ dollar dog that is malnourished and DIRTY and wandering around with no identification

Why does the media leave out a VERY important point in this story? The real dog owner is a state trooper. That puts an entirely different (and highly important) spin on this story! Is the news scared to say he's a state trooper in fear that law enforcement will be angry about the implication? It is what it is.

Never thought i'd hear anything like this. Yaay to all comments. Zachary and or EFP has no meth heads to catch right now. That's who i'm scared of not good neighbors. I sure hope someone would take care of my dobermann if she got to the road. Someone needs to pick this up pro bono and charge that owner for abuse of rescue efforts. Poor rescue guy and POOR DOG!!!
Kyle Holmes you didn't waste your time, you will be rewarded in the end.

Totally ridiculous charges. Sounds to me like someone is trying to abuse his power or has a different agenda. Hopefully the DA will throw this nonsense out. Waste of time and money when someone was trying to do some good.

This has my blood boiling! A do-gooder in trouble with the law that should be protecting its honest, hard working, trying to do the right thing, tax paying citizen!!!!! By the way, doesn't law enforcement work for the public to protect and serve???? If the dog was missing, why didn't the owner use his own resources and the microchip to just find and go get his dog according to the article??? Why take it to this level?? This is so wrong on so many levels. This owner should be counter sued

It's a shame things get to this point! Why hasn't anyone read Part 5 of La's leash law RS:3:2771??????
"Dogs not to run at large"!!!! "No person shall suffer OR permit ANY dog in his possession,or kept by him about his premises,to run at large on ANY unenclosed land OR TRESPASS upon ANY enclosed OR unenclosed lands of another"... How in Gods name can felony theft occur when the owner didn't keep the dog on his own property & violated THAT law???? To me, Sounds like the owner is in the wrong!

Sounds like the owner is being petulant and peevish. Stupid is as stupid does. I really hope the DA has a boat load of common sense, and charges the owner for misuse of Parrish resources and time. Mr. Holmes definitely did the right thing, yet we want to know why more people are not willing to DO the right thing. Perhaps it is because Stupid Pet Owners like this exist.

I think they should dismiss this issue. All Holmes did is what any dog lover would do gave the dog a bath, and fed him. He tried to contact who he could. I would not have known what to do because I have never heard of a situation like this. There are way to many criminals walking the street. Look for the person breaking the law not someone doing a kind deed.

We have reached an era when people show compassion and and try to help animals that have been lost or abandoned. Most used to turn their heads or call the dog catcher. Thanks to this insanity, people will now have to think twice before helping a suffering animal. I live in EFP and am horrified that this man is facing charges for acting in a humane manner. Or maybe his former owner would have preferred Mr. Holmes act in the old-fashioned way--take the dog to the back of his 25 acres and shoot him

It is close to same area and same breed as an abandoned purebred Mastiff I picked up that was in advanced stages of heartworm disease and close to death. Had to obtain merciful euthanasia for the horribly suffering sweet dying dog dumped on road- If it is same owner- I hope Karma takes care of him...

How about charging the owner with negligence for losing the dog. No good deed is goes unpunished.The man was just trying to help the dog by giving it bath and food and keeping it in his house and had to go on a trip i would be finding some one to take care of it till I got home too .

He should press charges in return! For letting the dog trespass on his land and for room and board! Stupid!

I totally agree! The owner of the dog sounds like a complete moron! He should be thanking him, not pressing charges. What the hell is wrong with people?

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