Kentucky man arrested in death of burned dog, owner says she wants justice

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HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT/WJW) – A Kentucky man has been arrested and charged with burning a small dog to death.

Henderson Police arrested 32 -year-old Bryan K. Matthews Jr. on Thursday night. Police say Matthews is charged with torturing a dog with serious injury or death and 3rd Degree arson.

Our sister station WEHT was on scene when officers made the arrest.

Bryan Matthews. (Courtesy: Henderson County Detention Center)
Duke (Humane Society of Henderson County)

According to WFIE, Duke, the miniature poodle, went missing during a family gathering on the night of Saturday, June 6.

His owner, Gina Howard, and her family spent Saturday night and Sunday looking for Duke. They contacted the Humane Society of Henderson County on Monday after their search did not yield results.

“We had another death in the family and we were sort of gathered grieving with that,” Howard told the news outlet. “There were a lot of people running in and out, you know and I noticed it had been about 30 minutes and we started calling out and looking for him.”

Duke was found burned inside a restroom at the Henderson County Fairgrounds on June 8.

According to court documents obtained by WFIE, Matthews had found Duke and his girlfriend told him he had to get rid of the dog. Matthews then left their residence with Duke and returned without him.

Matthews reportedly told his girlfriend he did not burn the dog but instead dropped him off near the fairgrounds.

Meanwhile, Duke’s owner, Gina Howard, told WFIE that she wants justice for her dog.

“I’m hurt over the dog,” said Howard. “I’m devastated over my dog, my kids are devastated over my dog, but it would not compare to the devastation would come for our community if something else happens.”

On Wednesday, a national reward fund was established in Duke’s honor.

Ardee Bell with the Humane Society of Henderson County says they intend to start Duke’s Justice Foundation, which will be a reward fund made available for national cases of animal torture.

A GoFundMe account has also been established to support this effort.

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