Jury: Man guilty of killing beagle pup

Tippett could get prison sentence on cruelty charge

HUNTINGDON — A Mount Union man was convicted Monday of killing a beagle puppy last May, a third-degree felony under Pennsylvania’s new animal cruelty law.

James Tippett, 25, took the witness stand in his own defense and tried to convince the jury that the puppy’s death was an accident.

But the Huntingdon County jury, after less than 20 minutes of deliberating, returned a verdict of guilty on the charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.

District Attorney Dave Smith, in a news release distributed after the trial, announced the conviction and praised those who reported the abuse and testified.

State police at Huntingdon went to the Valley View Trailer Court in the Mount Union area last May to investigate a neighbor’s concern that Tippett was abusing a beagle puppy named Ranger. The neighbor, who had been uploading a video to Facebook, caught part of the abuse on video and called police.

After troopers arrived, they said Tippett admitted to the killing and led police to the puppy’s burial site.

Witnesses told the jury that the puppy appeared to be afraid of Tippett and that the puppy, on the day of its death, slipped out of its collar and tried to run away.

Evidence produced at the trial showed Tippett kicking the puppy and throwing a collapsible cage at the puppy outside his residence.

Trial evidence also showed Tippett taking the puppy inside and throwing it against a wall, the press release said.

Following the trial, President Judge George Zanic increased Tippett’s bail from $10,000 unsecured to $25,000 cash. Deputies from the county sheriff’s K9 division transported Tippett to the county jail.

Under the new law, the maximum sentence for aggravated cruelty to animals is seven years. Tippett is scheduled for sentencing on July 23, after completion of a pre-sentence investigation.

Smith, in a news release, said it’s important for members of a community to be vigilant in protecting the safety of victims, like Ranger, who cannot speak for themselves.

He also praised lawmakers for changing the law to provide greater protections for animals.