UPDATE: A St. Elmo man was in court Thursday to answer charges of animal cruelty.  Michael Heath Henley's case was bound over to the grand jury.  No date has been set. 


A Chattanooga man faces animal cruelty charges after he beat his dog to death with a shoe.

Michael Heath Henley, 32, is charged with aggravated animal cruelty after an incident the morning of October 7 at his W. 53
St. home.

Henley's roommate told police he found Henley, who had been drinking, beating his dog with a shoe.

When the officer went inside the house, he found blood splattered on the wall and noticed several weapons in the house. Police found Henley in the back bedroom and he was taken outside to speak with officers.

Henley was at first uncooperative and argumentative. But after police found the dead dog in the trash can, Henley admitted that he “put the dog down.”

Henley told officers his dog Cocoa did not respond to one of his commands, so he reached down to retrieve the dog when he said Cocoa bit him on the right hand. Police noted in the arrest report it appeared Henley did have what appeared to be a bite mark on his hand.

Henley told police “he was not going to feed and care for a dog that did not obey him so he decided to put the dog down and kill it.”

Henley said he didn't have a phone so he couldn't call anyone and didn't know any better way to kill the dog than to “beat it to death with a shoe.”

In cases of animal cruelty, McKamey
Animal Center does its own investigation and in this case, the necropsy of Cocoa. The director of the center, Jamie McAloon Lampman, said it's tough for anyone to understand the deadly dog beating inside the St. Elmo home.

"The victims are the most defenseless, other than children, so it's hard for people to grasp how anyone could maliciously inflict pain on any animal," she said. "There's no reason for anybody to feel that have to put down an animal themselves. There's no reason. And it's illegal."

The McKamey director said this is a case of malicious intent and should be prosecuted accordingly. Aggravated animal cruelty is a Class E felony in Tennessee and can carry a fine up to $3,000 and up to six years in prison.

"Animal cruelty is definitely something we need to be paying attention to. It's definitely a red flag. People just don't go out and maliciously kill their animals,” she said. "No one just goes out and beats a dog to death. There's something else going on in that person's life."

McKamey is pursuing the aggravated animal cruelty charge which is a Class E Felony. Henley was taken into custody October 11. He is scheduled to be in court
October 30.