WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It has been more than a month since a puppy was allegedly beaten to death in Wilmington. Now, thousands of people are coming together on Facebook in hopes of getting justice for the pup named Axel.“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life. The hardest thing,” Axel’s owner, Tammy Croom said.- Advertisement – On Christmas day Axel was killed. He was an early Christmas present for Croom but was taken from her far too soon.“I have in my possession right now his collar and his tags,” Croom said.All Croom has left are tags and memories.Related Article: Wilmington man accused of abandoning pet fish after evictionCroom’s daughter’s boyfriend, Christopher Simpson, is accused of beating the puppy to death.“To beat a dog to death is pretty serious and I don’t see it any different, that’s just my opinion, than harming a child. It’s innocent they don’t have a voice,” said Rosey Milazzo, who created the Facebook group.In just three days more than 2,300 people have joined the Facebook group “Justice for Axel.”Milazzo is an animal advocate and created the group to raise awareness of animal cruelty cases like this.“My ideal would be, you know, five years or more but I know that’s not realistic,” Milazzo said.Although New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David could not comment on this specific case he said the maximum punishment would be up to 39 months incarceration. However, that is if the defendant has a serious record.It’s a sentence Croom, Milazzo, and David would like to see changed.“I’ve always said that crimes of violence are the top priority and that includes not only against humans but against animals too,” David said. “So I would advocate for punishing animal abuse, particularly with malicious intent, more harshly than it currently is.”Croom wants a database created where animal abusers are registered and for their rights to take care of animals be stripped away.“Pets have feelings too and they have no way to defend themselves so I would like to see punishment come out of this and higher animal laws,” Croom said.As for Simpson, Croom once saw him as a son but that is not the case anymore.“I will never be able to forgive him for this,” Croom said.WWAY reached out to Simpson for an interview but he declined the request.Simpson’s next court date is scheduled for February 8. The “Justice for Axel” group plans to protest his appearance.
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A shelter designed to help people in need is finally done getting help it needed after Hurricane Florence.The Salvation Army says its Red Shield Emergency Shelter at 802 N. 2nd St. in Wilmington will reopen next Monday. The Salvation Army will host an Open House to celebrate the reopening on Thursday, 4-7 p.m.- Advertisement – “The reopening of the Red Shield Shelter reimplements a vital service for the Cape Fear area,” Maj. Mark Craddock, Corps Officer of the Salvation Army of Cape Fear, said in a news release. “The shelter offers a temporary solution as the Salvation Army continues to move forward on the creation of the Center of Hope to be constructed at 1220 N. 30th St. The Center of Hope will provide a permanent home to the Red Shield Shelter, social services and administration while offering enhanced services to individuals and families.”During Hurricane Florence, the roof of the Red Shield Shelter suffered extensive damage and rain water poured into the shelter. The damage caused The Salvation Army to close the shelter until repairs could be completed and the safety of all guests and residents could be assured.According to a news release the Red Shield Shelter operates with 52 beds for men, women and families. All guests receive the option of enrolling in the Salvation Army Life Skills program offering up to six months of residency, nutrition, educational support classes, partnerships with Cape Fear Community College and other local businesses. Upon completion of the Life Skills program, residents graduate with a resume of consistent employment, stable housing, community service, educational success, and a pathway to stability.Related Article: UNC Wilmington to play Clemson for hurricane relief gameWhen the shelter reopens next week, it will once again open its doors to invite in people who need the services offered.The Salvation Army says its Soup Line, a daily community meal offered to everyone, will move from its current location on 3rd St. to the Red Shield Shelter. Between the Soup Line, guests and residents, the Salvation Army says it will provide 60,000 meals from the Red Shield Shelter kitchen.