East Tenn. man charged with animal cruelty after kitten buried alive dies


A heartbreaking picture of a kitten that was buried alive in Erwin is receiving hundreds of shares on social media.

Donna Stapleton of Erwin said she first saw the picture of Warrior the kitten on Unicoi County Animal Shelter’s Facebook page. 

“It just broke my heart,” Stapleton said. “I couldn’t believe that somebody would do that.”

In the photo, 6-week-old Warrior is lying on a blanket covered in dirt and blood.

Warrior was transported to a local animal clinic where he later died from his injuries.

According to Unicoi County court documents, the kitten was rescued from a shallow grave on Pinecrest Road in Erwin.

Essie Foster lives nearby and said she couldn’t believe something so horrific could happen in her neighborhood.

“Yeah I was shocked and a lot of people was shocked, you know hearing of that,” Foster said. “Whoever done it, I think they need to be punished for it.”

Johnny Mack Rogers of Erwin is charged with aggravated animal cruelty, court documents say Rogers buried the kitten alive after it was stepped on.

Now, the community is coming together for a fundraiser in memory of Warrior and to raise awareness on animal cruelty.

“If you see it, report it. If you know what’s going on report it to the police, to the animal control,” Stapleton said. “They feel too, just like we do. The animals they feel too. They just don’t have a voice to say it and we need to be their voice.”

Stapleton said they are already planning the fundraiser, they plan on having t-shirts made that say “Justice for Warrior.”

She said the fundraiser will take place at the end of August and all the money raised will go toward the Unicoi County Animal Shelter.

If you would like to donate to the Unicoi County Animal Shelter in memory of Warrior you can send an email to justiceforwarrior@gmail.com.

Rogers is set to appear in court on September 20.

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