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Man Wanted on Animal Cruelty Charges Arrested at Dulles Airport

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Dulles International Airport have arrested a Clarke County man wanted on animal cruelty charges.

CLARKE COUNTY, Va. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Washington Dulles International Airport arrested a Clarke County man wanted on animal cruelty charges.

On February 5, 2014 Christopher Copeland allegedly shot his neighbor's two-year-old pet Labrador Retriever. Both Copeland and his neighbor, Roy Vanhouten live off of Carefree Lane in Boyce, Va., less than a half mile from each other.

"Mr. Copeland saw the dog on his property. Apparently this isn't the first time, and the dog was close to some animals that Mr. Copeland owned,” said Chief Deputy Travis Sumption of the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies say even though Vanhouten's dog wasn't antagonizing Copeland or his animals, Copeland still took out a .22 caliber firearm and shot the dog.

"He received a charge of felony animal cruelty," Sumption said.

A first offense for animal cruelty - whether it results in the animal's death or not - is considered a misdemeanor in Virginia. But because this incident involved someone's pet, the charges are upgraded to a felony.

"[U.S.] Customs and Border Protection, a lot of people don't know intercepts and arrests more felony warrants than any other municipality in the country,” said Christopher Downing, a CBP Supervisory Officer at Dulles.

CBP officers at Dulles arrested Copeland this week after seeing his name on an international flight manifest list that was headed back to the United States. 

"In this case, what transpired was the gentleman coming in off a flight from Dubai happened to test positive for an arrest warrant from one of the local municipalities here on a state charge," said Downing, which gave authorities, after confirming the warrant with Clarke County officials, all the leverage they needed to make the arrest

CBP officials said Copeland was cooperative after getting over the initial shock of getting picked up by airport authorities. Clarke County Sheriff Deputies say they are unsure if Copeland or Vanhouten had any previous conversations regarding Vanhouten's pet dog. 

Clarke county deputies say they made several attempts to pick him up after the arrest warrant was issued, but he was never home when they tried.

Copeland was released on recognizance, and will have his first court date in Clarke County General District Court on April 3, 2014. 

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