JACKSON, LA (WAFB) - A man who thought he was doing the right thing by caring for a lost dog is headed to court Tuesday.
When you meet Kyle Holmes of Jackson, LA, it doesn't take long to realize he is an animal lover. He cares for several pets on his 25-acre property. He said an unfamiliar face showed up on his doorstep April 30.
"My girlfriend texted me stating a very large dog had showed up at the house," Holmes said.
He said the Boerboel, a large, mastiff breed from South Africa, was wearing a collar, but no identification tags. Holmes said when he learned no one had reported the dog missing to the Jackson Vet Clinic he took it upon himself to try to find its owner.
"We took a few pictures of the dog, posted it on Facebook," he said.
Holmes said the mastiff was not getting along with his pets and because he was going out of town for an extended period of time, he wanted to make sure it had a good home. He said an old high school friend, Lori Williams, agreed to take the dog to her home in Watson.
"I loaded up the dog in a kennel and took the dog by vehicle to Paradise Casino on Hwy 16, where I met Lori's fiancé," he said.
According to Holmes, while he was out of town, he got a call from a neighbor informing him the dog belonged to Trooper Tommy Lea of Louisiana State Police. Holmes said he tried to contact Lea when he returned, but could not reach him. After four days of playing phone tag, Holmes said he received a voicemail from Lea.
"Hey Kyle, this is Tommy Lea," the message stated. "Look, I finally got a hold of Lori. She tells me that my dog got out of the fence and she has no idea where she's at now. You have until Sunday, Sunday to give me my dog or you're a-- is going to jail for felony theft and you can kiss your Exxon job goodbye."
Holmes filed a formal complaint against Lea with state police stating, "I contacted ExxonMobil HR Department and made them aware of the threat received on my company device and it has been documented."
The East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office did arrest Holmes on a charge of felony theft. While he didn't cite a specific law, Detective Kevin Garig said Holmes did not handle the situation properly.
"If you have a dog that you know is expensive that has a collar, I think before you give it to someone who's that far away, you have to make a reasonable effort to find who the owner is," Garig said.
The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office arrested Lori Williams two weeks later for illegally possessing the dog. While Williams initially told investigators the dog ran away from her home, they have reason to believe she sold it.
"We're still in the process of trying to find out at what point money took place," Garig added.
Williams was booked in East Feliciana Parish Monday for criminal mischief. Holmes is now charged with misdemeanor theft for a crime he said he did not commit.
"It's very degrading to be in jail, looked at as a criminal, for trying to help a homeless dog," he said.
Garig said because East Feliciana Parish does not have an animal shelter, people should report all missing and found animals to the sheriff's office. LSP has confirmed its internal affairs department is investigating Holmes' complaint against Lea.
The mastiff has been returned to Lea.