Norfolk Circuit Court Judge Karen J. Burrell personally delivered that above message to Michael McLeod on Friday, when she sentenced him to five years in prison for killing his neighbor’s dog.
In 2003, McLeod told police that he shot his neighbor’s dog, Rex, a Labrador Retriever, because he woke him up with his barking.
An Army veteran, he aimed his .22-caliber rifle with a scope at the dog across the street, and fired one shot. McLeod planned the shooting, even taking the time to cut back shrubbery from around his bedroom window "for a clear shot."
The 7-year-old dog was hit and killed.
McLeod pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges, but fled before sentencing. He has been on the run until a traffic stop in Florida revealed his outstanding bench warrant. He has been in the Norfolk City Jail since May.
While the sentence may seem unusually long to some, Judge Burrell reminded the courtroom that the dog was "a living creature."
McLeod received four years for animal cruelty and an additional year for failure to appear.
McLeod cried after Burrell announced the sentence.
This sentencing sends a strong message to anyone who would consider harming an animal in the city of Norfolk.