Norfolk, Va. - Once a local celebrity in Norfolk’s prestigious puppy circle, Charles the Monarch is essentially 'behind bars' after a concerned citizen found him wandering around Colley Avenue last week.
“I’ve lived in Norfolk for three-and-a-half years. I’ve heard many stories of Charles the Monarch dog wandering the streets, not being cared for. I’ve witnessed it myself. I saw the dog sitting in front of Fellini’s one night with nobody around," said Rob Blizard.
Blizard is not directly related to the case, but as the executive director of the SPCA, he says he feels a responsibility to speak out about it.
“At the Norfolk SPCA we are advocates for responsible pet ownership. To me, from what I know of with regard to Charles the Monarch, seems to be a case of irresponsible pet ownership to the extreme.
"Allowing a dog to roam free when it could be hit by a car, or stolen, or meet with some other horrible fate is not responsible pet ownership, and that’s what made me want to say something," said Blizard.
The ‘lion dog’ first gained notoriety after he was spotted roaming the streets of Ghent back in 2013. People mistook the labradoodle for a lion because of his haircut.
Since then, the lion dog has been spotted numerous times roaming the area, without his owner, Daniel Painter.
"Charlie has been in our neighborhood for several years, and the kids in the neighborhood love him," said Painter's defense attorney, Bobby Howlett. "There’s not a mean bone in Charlie’s body. He’s well fed, well cared for, has a great temperament.”
Howlett says his client had no idea Charles was wandering the neighborhood when he was picked up. He maintains the dog was in a pen and escaped while he was out of town.
Employees at the Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center, where Charles is being held, say this is the fourth time the lion dog has been brought in.
Charles is set to remain at the pound until his next court hearing on April 22nd.
"I just think it’s ludicrous for Charlie to be held almost one month before we get before a judge to determine whether he should be released to his owner," said Howlett.
Howlett tried to get Charles back to his owner, but animal control officers told him no. Painter also told NewsChannel 3 he was forbidden from visiting his dog while they wait for the court date.
Painter is facing a nuisance animal misdemeanor charge.
"When I heard that Mr. Painter was charged with having a nuisance animal, my first thought was, 'is it the animal, or is the owner?'” Blizard told NewsChannel 3 Wednesday morning.
Prior to this incident, Painter was most recently convicted of a nuisance animal charge involving Charles in December 2013. Court records show the case was finalized in January 2014.