Landrum man pleads guilty after pit bulls fatally attack neighbor’s pony

Published 12:53 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

LANDRUM—The Landrum man whose loose pit bulls attacked and killed “Maggie,” a neighbor’s pony, avoided facing the family and the gruesome photos Monday by going to the courthouse prior to his hearing, pleading guilty and paying a $1,600 fine.

Spartanburg County Associate Judge David J. Turner called John Belue’s name several times in Magistrate Court, where animal abuse and neglect cases brought by Animal Control officers are heard. Other than Turner’s booming voice, the courtroom was still and silent until a court official notified Judge Turner of the plea.

Belue was charged with two counts of allowing his two dogs to run loose, one count of his dogs being a nuisance and attacking the pony and two counts of failing to have his dogs vaccinated for rabies.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Stephanie Morris, a neighbor of Belue, was at her home on Miracle Farm Road in January when a friend called to tell her “Maggie” was being attacked in her pasture. The dogs had run back home by the time she reached the 3 ½-year-old miniature paint horse, a constant companion to the children. The dogs had chewed off the horse’s ears, ripped open its throat and broken a leg with their powerful jaws. She couldn’t be saved.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Morris and her husband Robert were clearly disappointed.

“There was no justice today for Maggie. He (Belue) avoided that,” Stephanie Morris said. “For now.”

Morris intends to sue Belue in civil court, seeking damages for the loss of the family’s pet as well as the family’s pain and suffering. “That is the only thing that we know we can do at this point,” she said, adding that Belue had never offered an apology or to pay the $875 veterinarian bill she incurred.

“I’m encouraging them to file a civil suit for restitution,” said Senior Animal Control Officer David Jorgensen, the investigating officer who was in court and prepared to present the evidence against Belue. He said there is nothing else he can do unless the dogs attack again.