An arraignment and plea in the case of a man accused of beating two dogs over the head with a baseball bat is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
Michael Woole, 34, of Conway, was arrested on two felony counts of animal cruelty Sept. 3 after a neighbor called police to report that he allegedly witnessed Woole beat two dogs over the head repeatedly with a baseball bat in a pen at his home.
According to the witness, when he approached Woole at the time of the incident, Woole stated he was "putting the dogs down."
When the witness called police, Woole allegedly loaded the dogs into the back of a pickup truck and left the area.
In an interview with police, Woole denied striking the animals or causing them to bleed, but told investigators he used a shovel to "usher the dogs into another pen."
An animal welfare officer who responded to the scene took photos of blood inside and around the pen.
Woole was released on a $5,000 bond the day of his arrest.
"The way the statute is written, you have to engage in some pretty egregious behavior before it reaches the level of felony animal cruelty, and the use of a baseball bat to beat the animals to death, we feel certainly rises to the level of activity that would warrant a felony charge," said Hiland.
The act allowing felony charges for cruelty to animals was passed in 2009 and applies to horses, dogs and cats.
Hiland said the animals have to be tortured for the felony status to apply, as defined by the statute.
If convicted of the class D felonies, Woole will face up to six years in prison on each charge.