McMinn County Sheriff Deputies need your help tonight finding a Niota man accused of abusing a dog.
Donald Eugene Wattenbarger is wanted for Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, Criminal Impersonation and Driving on a Revoked license among other charges. Wattenbarger's dog was found with horrific wounds around his neck and chest. Deputies say the evidence shows the animal was bound with barb wire.
Sheriff Joe Guy tells us it was a neighbor who found the injured dog on Wattenbarger's property and called for help. Officials say that phone call likely saved the dog's life.
The 4-year-old dog,now named Blue, has been in emergency care for several weeks and still his wounds are pretty serious. Officials say Blue was nearly decapitated when he came in. Veterinarians say the other deep cuts are from an unknown source. Some workers tell Channel 3, it looks like someone took a knife to his neck.
"I mean I'm a hunter but it's another thing to literally abuse an animal," said Sheriff Joe Guy. "This dog certainly suffered some pretty severe lacerations to its chest and throat."
Sheriff Joe Guy needs your help finding the man accused of hurting blue. Officials say the dog was in Donald Wattenbarger's possession before a neighbor stepped in.
"I think the patrol staff has made about eight attempts to arrest this person," said Sheriff Guy.
The Sheriff says Wattenbarger knows he's wanted for felony Aggravated Cruelty to Animals among other charges. He says Wattenbarger has been known to travel by horse through the woods, making it even more difficult to find him.
"Mr. Wattenbarger sort of lately has stayed hidden in the area, he just stays on a horse and just kind of cruises around the woods," said Sheriff Guy, "Periodically, he will come back to his family's residence but yes we would appreciate any help if anybody sees him out, give us a call so we can make contact, serve the warrants on him and arrest him."
Blue is expected to be okay but it will be a while before he is well enough to find a forever home. Despite all the pain, his caregivers say he's especially sweet to everyone around him.
Deputies say Wattenbarger has been investigated in the past for previous complaints on his horses but no evidence of abuse was ever found. If you have any information that can help investigators call the McMinn County Sheriff's Office.