Subject of viral video charged with animal cruelty

A Stephens City woman has been charged with one count of animal cruelty Tuesday after a video of the alleged crime went viral on social media channels in the area.

Katherine W. Thomas, 32, of Stephens City was identified in the video, which showed a woman kicking two of three leashed dogs and exhibiting frustration toward the animals. The incident took place on Feb. 18 in the 100 block of Overview Court.

Capt. Aleck Beeman, of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, said that disciplining a disobedient animal for training purposes is one thing.

“There’s a difference between disciplining a dog,” he said. “You shouldn’t punch them in the head or the face, and according to the witness she was kicking them in the head. There’s nothing wrong with maybe a sharp tug on the chain or something but you can’t kick them in the ribs and hit them in face. I think it’s common sense but I guess it isn’t. It’s the same with a child.”

Beeman explained that of the three dogs, only one belongs to Thomas. The other two were her boyfriend’s. Those two have been returned to the boyfriend and Thomas’s dog has been returned to her after it was discovered that the dog was not injured.

“It wasn’t injured so unless the court removes it, (it will remain in her custody),” Beeman said.

Virginia law states that the crime of animal cruelty is a misdemeanor unless an individual “tortures, willfully inflicts inhumane injury or pain not connected with bona fide scientific or medical experimentation or cruelly and unnecessarily beats, maims or mutilates any dog or cat that is a companion animal whether belonging to him or another; and (ii) as a direct result causes the death of such dog or cat that is a companion animal, or the euthanasia of such animal on the recommendation of a licensed veterinarian upon determination that such euthanasia was necessary due to the condition of the animal,” in which case the crime is a class six felony.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com