JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - "It's not what it's said to be." Those are the words from Jacksonville criminal defense attorney Lee Lockett when he described a video showing his client allegedly abusing a puppy.
The video, which was leaked on Facebook back in March, allegedly shows his client, Matthew Long, striking and choking a black and white beagle-hound mix. Long was cited for animal cruelty and the dog, Fiona, was removed from his home. A judge also ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine and take anger management courses before the dog was returned to him.
First Coast News reported Tuesday about how Fiona was returned to Long, which angered the community. Some thought he got a "slap on the wrist."
However, Lockett told First Coast News that Long made mistakes, but did not choke the dog.
"We hear a lot about this choking event, there is no choking of the dog," Lockett told First Coast News. "You certainly see him picking up the dog. He holds the dog by the neck. But when we think about choking, we see movement in their hands, moving their head. You don't see that in this case."
Lockett explained that Long reacted to the dog having an "accident" in the house.
"He's never been in trouble with the law before," Lockett said. "Never been arrested. Never had any complaints about animal cruelty issues... He's 20 years old. He's young."
Lockett said Long regrets his actions.
"He loves Fiona, he always has," Lockett said. "He's not one of these owners we hear about that beats their animals primarily because they hate their animals or they don't want their animals around and they resent their animals. Mr. Long was emotional at the hearing and assured the courts that he loves Fiona."
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