UPDATED: Chattanooga man charged with animal cruelty - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATED: Chattanooga man charged with animal cruelty

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Betty Ratchford has trouble buying that what was going onthe yard next door--was anything other than neighbor Frederick Lamar Maddenexercising his pit bull.

"I think he was just playing," she says. "Hewas going back and forth (bobbing & weaving), and the dog was just jumpingat him."

Terri Courtney couldn't disagree more.

"He was tugging at the chain,  and suspending thedog in the air," Courtney tells Eyewitness News in a telephone interview.

"He was trying to hang the dog."

"That's kind of unbelievable," Ratchford says.

"So I asked him, why you doing that," Courtneycontinues. "He said 'I'm trying to make him fight, try to make him tough.If he don't (sic) he gonna die. I'm gonna kill him!"

"I got upset about it so I called the police."

When Chattanooga Police responded to 1407 Wheeler Avenue,they recovered a knife that, Courtney says, Madden used to threaten to slit hisdog's throat.

Madden is charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals.He has bonded out, pending a court appearance later this month.

"We haven't done behavioral assessment on thedog," says McKamey Animal Center director Karen Walsh.

"It hasn't been exposed to other dogs, but he's in safeharbor."

Walsh says police won't allow McKamey to show us the dog,nor describe its injuries.

"The dog should be adoptable (after the court case isover). "It seems to have a very nice temperament."

Nobody answered when an Eyewitness News crew dropped byMadden's home Friday afternoon. We've been unable to reach him by phone.

"It seems that he loved that dog, he cared about thatdog," Ratchford says.

But a background check reveals Madden has two misdemeanorconvictions from March 2004,  for assault and criminal trespass.

Each drew a penalty of 11 months, 29 days in the countyworkhouse. But the judge suspended both sentences, and placed Madden onprobation.

"He needs to pick up paper in the street,"Courtney says.

"Wearing a sign that says he is an animal abuser. Hedoesn't need to have any animals, anymore."

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