Beaten, bloody and broken. It was a ball of black-and-tan fluff barely big enough to span two cupped hands.
It should have been playing with squeaky toys, eating Puppy Chow or nestled in that special spot between a human’s neck and shoulder.
It should have been running — joyfully vocalizing puppy yips while chasing a tennis shoe string.
It should have been loved — cradled, cuddled and snuggled like a precious gift from God.
Instead, it was placed on a stump and beaten to death with a log.
God gifted us with puppies.
Yet monsters rise from hell.
This can’t be right.
It’s Thursday afternoon, and I am hurriedly driving down Route 52 while mulling the purpose of my trip.
A police scanner call minutes before shocked the newsroom into silence.
The caller advised a man was beating a puppy on a log in view of an elementary school.
I grab my gear and rush out of the office.
Horrific calls such as this must be treated seriously, but all the while I am thinking it has to be a mistake.
By the time I drive through Brushfork I convince myself it was likely a stuffed animal someone viewed from a distance.
An innocent error, I think.
It has to be.
No one beats a puppy to death.
Less than 10 minutes after the scanner call I arrive at Kinser Apartments. It’s across the way from Bluewell Elementary School where parents are pulling in to pick up their kids.
The sight of two West Virginia State Police cruisers and three troopers makes my stomach drop.
Two units do not respond to a mistake.
I see Mercer County Animal Control Officer Kallie Conley walking up an incline with a bloody puppy in her hands.
I later learn it was no more than eight weeks old, and weighed five pounds or less.
It was a baby.
A joyful, fur-covered infant that had only two months to explore this cold, cruel world.
It is the most solemn crime scene I have witnessed.
Troopers and animal control officers are quietly, dutifully carrying out their business.
I see the woodpile of death, and the stump that bears bloodstains.
Kallie and her co-worker Elizabeth Syres wrap the lifeless body in a rainbow colored blanket — a fitting choice for the bridge it is about to cross.
They are visibly shaken, as are most of us viewing the scene.
Slashing the air of melancholy are random declarations of justification by suspect John Michael Wimmer.
Wimmer lives in the apartment complex with his cousin who owned the puppy, Justin McKinley Mitchelson.
As Michelson bows his head in cowardly shame, Wimmer tells those in the parking lot he “had to do it.”
He says the puppy drank Lysol, and laid in the floor for hours.
Those gathered at the scene are not buying his BS.
He continues to give excuses. No one is listening.
“I’m not getting arrested for this, am I?” he asks.
The answer comes when a set of handcuffs are placed around his wrists.
I move in to take photos, and he questions me as to why he is the subject of such attention. I could give an answer, but the words would not be fit for print.
Instead, I bite my tongue and continue snapping pics. This image must be front-page quality.
A woman exits the apartment and also mouths off to those in the parking lot. She says Wimmer should not be arrested, and points her finger at Mitchelson.
Her rant is ignored, but troopers are keenly aware of the full situation. Soon, Mitchelson is also placed in cuffs.
Both men are charged with felony animal cruelty. The crime carries a penalty of one to five years in prison.
I would argue for a lifetime of suffering to match the last moments of pain experienced by the pup.
I hate these stories, and lament the words I type.
But the events of the day are put out in black and white.
The community needs to know that monsters are real, and that they dwell among us.
In this case they carried out a despicable deed in full view of an elementary school filled with young, innocent and impressionable children.
Children who should see acts of love to emulate — not indescribable violence.
I take a final look at the rainbow-colored blanket and send up a prayer.
This puppy should have been — would have been — man’s best friend. But his man was a craven, spineless, brutal killer.
Run swiftly to the Rainbow Bridge, sweet pup. There are others waiting for you there who will shower you with love.
God gave us puppies.
May monsters revel in the wrath of hell.
Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her @BDTPerry.