NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A New Hanover County man arrested and charged with fatally shooting his neighbor’s dog last week over excessive barking is facing another count of animal cruelty.
Alex Christian Hollinger, 24, was taken into custody on Saturday and charged with four counts of felony cruelty to animals. He was booked into the New Hanover County jail under a $25,000 unsecured bond and later released after posting bail.
Hollinger was back in court Wednesday to face another animal cruelty charge, bringing the total count to five.
According to a news release from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, an animal services investigator responded to a residence in the 400 block of Horn Road on Friday, March 29 at the request of the homeowner whose dog, a 3-year-old male boxer mix named Gibson, passed away on Thursday.
Leigh West said she came home Thursday night and found Gibson bleeding profusely. West and her stepson initially thought the dog had cut himself on the backyard fence.
“We rushed him to the hospital, they tried to save his life, and finally they couldn’t do anything else," West said. "I put my head on him and I said, ‘I am sorry this happened to you,’ and then he was euthanized.”
The West family had two other dogs who were X-rayed Wednesday, and a BB was found in the shoulder of one of the dogs, which led to Hollinger’s added charge, according to Lt. Jerry Brewer with the NHCSO.
West says a necropsy of Gibson revealed he had four BBs inside of him, and he was shot in the neck.
“This was a life that was taken. He was just as much of our family as any person even though he was a dog, and he was taken from us,” said West’s fiancee, William Fulcher.
The couple said on Friday investigators came to their home and found their backyard fence was broken and that their neighbor, Hollinger, had confessed to shooting Gibson with an air gun.
“It hurts when you are holding something you love as it’s dying and it looks you in the eye one last time and you are powerless," said Caleb Hyatt, who called Gibson his son. "Now, I just want justice for my dog.”
The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said of the four BBs found inside Gibson, two had been there for months and healed up, revealing that the crimes may have initially taken place in December.
The family says after they rushed Gibson to the vet, Hollinger sent them a text.
“He said, ‘I was outside for 5 top 6 min, tops, starting to rake out wood chips and your son came out saying he thinks he is bleeding, it happened that fast and I don’t wish that on any pup, I can’t believe it and i have no idea how or what he cut himself on,’" Fulcher said as he read what he claimed was Hollinger’s text.
That text sending shockwaves of anger through the family after hearing Hollinger confessed to shooting Gibson.
“We are going to fight for justice. He was our child, our love. We loved him more than anything, and because of someone’s cruel act, he is gone," West said. "This person took it into their own hands to silence him, and that’s why we are here, to be (Gibson’s) voice.”
The family said Hollinger approached them a few months ago stating Gibson was excessively barking and so they purchased a bark collar for the dog. They checked in with Hollinger, who said the noise had gotten much better.
Hollinger made his first appearance in court Monday, where he was ordered to relinquish all firearms and have no contact with the dog’s family. His next court date is April 18.