East Tennessee pit bull owner responds to criticism after viral Facebook photo

WATE - CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WATE) - A Bradley County dog owner is combating rumors that he abuses his dog.

Timothy White, the owner of the 1-year-old pit bull named "Sparkles" said he was surprised when a relative showed him a picture of his dog a neighbor had posted that claimed he was abusing his dog by leaving it in the hot sun every day. White said he does leave his dog outside in a cage while he's not home or he is cleaning the house, but the dog always has water, food and is in the shade.

"They painted this picture to make it look like we keep our dog out there 24/7 with no water or no food, but that's not so," said White.

James Bradford, with the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, said his department has had multiple requests to see the dog after the Facebook photo went viral. He said they've investigated it numerous times and have not found any sort of criminal act towards the dog.

"The picture doesn't say the entire story," said Bradford."I think this picture that was Facebook showed the dog that was inside this cage and I think the discussion has been that this dog stays inside the cage for an extended period of time in the cage in the heat and we've investigated that and that's not so."
White said the neighbor knocked on his door and confronted him about leaving the dog out in 90 degree heat. He said he told his neighbor the accusations were untrue.

The one thing White said he is apologizing for is his wife's reaction after members of an animal rescue group told her that leaving her dog in a crate out in the heat is not the right thing to do for her. "She didn't expect a crowd to swarm her and it was in the heat of a moment and in the heat of a moment sometimes you say some things and sometimes you do some things in the heat of the moment," he said.

White said he doesn't plan on making any changes to the way he treats his dog. "I'm going to keep things the same, because I"m not abusing her. She's got plenty of food, plenty of water. She's healthy. I'll put her outside. I've got my neighbors watching," he said.

As for if he'll confront his neighbor about the Facebook post, White said he plans on being the bigger person and letting the issue go. "I wish he would have posted one of these pictures out there of me holding her a baby every day," he said coddling Sparkles in his lap.

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