Man accused of setting off fireworks near dog charged with animal cruelty

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Fulton County Animal Control said a man seen in video intentionally lighting fireworks on the 4th of July near his dog to scare him has been charged with animal cruelty. The video caused outrage on social media.

Fulton County Field Services Director Tim Poorman said the video shows a man lighting fireworks near his dog, then going inside and closing the door. Poorman said the fireworks scared the dog, causing the Pyrenees husky mix to run to the other side of the porch, where another set of fireworks went off.

"A lot of us spent the 4th of July weekend at home comforting our own dogs from people shooting off fireworks and this guy was doing it deliberately to see if he could scare his dog," said Poorman.

Poorman said he investigated and when he went to the pet owner’s home Wednesday in Northeast Atlanta, the man admitted what he did. Poorman issued the man, identified as William Scaffidi, a citation for animal cruelty.

"I have seen some pretty horrendous things in this job in my years doing it and this was quite possibly the most, I can't put into words, the most egregious thing I have seen the most deliberate thing to scare an animal," said Poorman.

The video spread on social media. Gwinnett County State Court Judge Carla Brown founded Canine Pet Rescue. Judge Brown said she has presided over animal cruelty cases before and was sick when she saw this video, but proud of the public outcry that resulted. "I think the greatest lesson that maybe could be learned out of this is if the personal life or the business of the person is affected," said Judge Brown.  "You can't expect to do something like this and not suffer the consequences."

The dog is still in the care of her owner. Officer Poorman said they did not have any legal reason to seize it. "The dog is in fair health." said Officer Poorman.  "Very happy, of adequate weight, there are no burns on the dog whatsoever."

Fulton County Animal Control said the pet owner is scheduled for a court appearance on July 26.  He could face 60 days in jail, and the judge can order the dog to be surrendered to Fulton County Animal Control.