DECATUR — A 23-year-old Decatur man was arrested Wednesday afternoon and booked on a preliminary charge of animal cruelty after police said he allowed a pet dog to freeze to death and then tried to cover up the incident.

Macon County Animal Control officers were called Tuesday afternoon to a backyard in the 600 block of South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive where they said they found a female pitbull that had frozen to death.

In a statement, officers said they determined the dog had died two weeks earlier, and they established the dog did not belong to the family in whose yard it was found.

That family called police after finding the dog, which was dead inside a dog house, sheriff's deputies said.

“It was determined that the suspect had dragged the doghouse containing the deceased dog through the snow from the backyard (of his home) on South Jackson Street and had placed it in the complainant’s backyard on South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in an attempt to dispose of it,” Sgt. M.T. Reynolds said in the statement.

The suspect is free on bond, but Reynolds said the investigation was continuing. Preliminary charges are subject to review by the state's attorney's office.

Animal cruelty is a Class A misdemeanor, but a second or subsequent conviction is a Class 4 felony.

Reynolds said the Macon County Animal Control and Care Center encourages reporting all neglect and animal abuse. Call (217) 425-4508 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or (217) 424-1311 after hours and weekends.

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Staff Writer

Courts and public safety reporter for the Herald & Review.

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