A Good Samaritan was arrested and jailed for rescuing a dog that was being beaten by a homeless man in Gastonia, North Carolina. The incident occurred on September 12, 2018 in front of Zeb’s Produce on Hickory Grove Road.
Robin Huffman had been shopping in the store, when a homeless man who frequents the area was seen with his dog Rocky. Rocky ran to Robin and jumped up on her. The homeless man, who goes by the name ‘Jackie” and many other aliases, began hitting the dog with his metal walking cane. He struck the dog twice. Robin told him to stop hitting the dog or she would call the police. Jackie, then went across the street and in full view of Robin and Zeb Reese, owner of the produce store, hit the dog seven more times. According to Zeb, the dog was hit on the head and back with the metal walking cane.
Robin flagged down an officer with the City of Gastonia Police Department and reported the situation. He told her he couldn’t help her. Robin observed Jackie tying Rocky to an air pump, so she made the decision to rescue the dog, taking him in her car and driving away. Robin took the dog to her vet in Charlotte, North Carolina where she paid for his shots and placed him in boarding.
On September 15 2018, Officer RJ Miller of the Gaston County Police Department showed up at the Good Samaritan, Robin’s door and arrested her for “felony larceny.” Rocky was also picked up from boarding in Charlotte and taken to the Gaston County Animal Care and Enforcement Division. Robin was in jail for four hours before being released on a secured bond. Her next court date is October 29, 2018.
In interviewing Zeb Reese at Zeb’s Produce, he corroborated Robin’s story. When asking if Officer Miller wrote up a witness statement based on what Zeb told him, he said no. According to Zeb, the homeless man known as “Jackie” has a history of abusing his dogs. Before Rocky, he had a beagle named ‘Darla.’ He was observed beating her on many occasions. One day, Darla just dropped to the ground. Jackie dragged the dog and threw her into a dumpster not even confirming if she was dead.
Zeb also advised in the interview that Jackie, whose real name is George Randal Henson, is allegedly a nuisance to the people and business owners in the area. Six weeks ago, he allegedly stole three watermelons from Zeb’s store and a week ago it was a bag of apples.
In an interview with Meredith Abercrombie, who frequents Will’s Food Store which is near Zeb’s Produce, she stated she had witnessed George Henson aka Jackie kick Rocky and also drag Darla by her leash so hard that her feet left the ground. He also allegedly made rude, perverted comments to Meredith during the times she has had encounters with him; one time, when she felt bad for Rocky and bought some dog food. Instead of keeping the dog food for Rocky, George Henson took the food back into the store and got the cash for it to buy beer.
Meredith also stated that Robin Huffman is a pillar of the community and this type of animal abuse is unacceptable.
Tonya also stated that it is ridiculous that George Henson continues to get away with his behaviors and nothing is done about it. When reaching out to Chief Joseph Ramey of the Gaston County Police Department asking why Ms. Huffman was arrested and Mr. Henson was not charged with animal abuse, this was his response:
“On September 12th Ms. Huffman did encounter Mr. Henson in the area of Hickory Grove Road near a produce stand and as she engaged Mr. Henson and the dog, the dog jumped up on Ms. Huffman and Mr. Henson corrected the dog with his stick according to the witness at the produce stand. Shortly afterwards, Ms. Huffman is observed approaching Mr. Henson at a convenience store and he does not respond to her. Mr. Henson ties his dog up at the store and goes inside. At this point Ms. Huffman unties Mr. Henson’s dog and puts it in her car and drives away ( We have video of her actions). Ms. Huffman takes the dog to Veterinarian and the Veterinarian advised the dog although a little thin, was well taken care of, no signs of abuse, very sociable, and no reason not to be returned to its owner.
However, the dog has not been returned to Mr. Henson as we have worked with a community resource Gateway at the Y to arrange for Mr. Henson to enter Counseling and Rehab beginning on Monday ( a commendable approach by Officers). As a Former Marine Mr. Henson will receive additional assistance from Veteran Services to help him get back on his feet once he completes the counseling and rehab. Afterwards, we’ll reevaluate his situation and consider returning the dog. The dog may have been the only positive thing going for Mr. Henson and Ms. Huffman intentionally deprived him of that. I have also reviewed our calls for service regarding Mr. Henson, I’m currently only showing 4 calls in the past 9 months regarding Mr. Henson of those 4 he was a victim in 1. Finally, there is a Facebook posting from Ms. Huffman in which she states she “took” the dog. The appropriate way to handle animal abuse is to contact Animal Care & Enforcement. Again, thank you for your concerns.”
When reaching out to the Gaston County Commissioners via email, the simple statement “We will look into your concerns” was their only response. There has been no response from Officer RJ Miller.
According to Zeb Reese, as of October 1, 2018, George Henson is not in any rehab program but is still said to be on the streets in the same area near the produce shop. He did confirm that George does not have any dogs at this time.
Gaston County Animal Care and Enforcement Division does have Rocky listed for adoption.
The fair and just thing to do in this case, in this writer’s opinion, is to have Robin Huffman exonerated of all charges and to have Mr. Henson court ordered to go to rehab where he can learn to be a more productive member of society, and learn not to abuse animals.
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