Updated 8 months ago
The suspect in a Nelson County animal cruelty case surprised people speaking out against animal abuse Thursday evening when he showed up at the rally.
John Lewis, 25, who was charged Monday with 10 counts of animal cruelty, told LEX 18 he decided to make an appearance after reading comments about the story, including ones that suggested he should be hanged and killed.
"These people, like me, are true animal lovers," said Lewis. "I love dogs. I've always had dogs."
Bardstown Police found nine pit bulls badly injured and mistreated at Lewis' home after responding to an animal complaint. One of the dogs was euthanized while the others were taken away.
Lewis said he was away from his house celebrating Easter with his children at the time of the incident. He didn't know why some of the dogs were aggresive toward eachother but said he didn't train them to fight.
"A cop lives directly behind me," Lewis said. "If all this nonsense was going on, surely they would have been out here a whole lot sooner."
The couple dozen animal owners gathered in downtown Bardstown, dubbed the Most Beautiful Small Town in America, because of the plethora of animal abuse cases in their community that they believe are tarnishing that moniker.
The rally and candelight service was put on by a local animal adoption and rescue agency called Barkstown Rescue. Peppered among the crowd were several pit bulls and other breeds that have a reputation for being cruel. Those who hold the leashes said most of the time it's the one with two legs who causes the four-legged friends to turn unfriendly.
"If we don't speak up for those animals no one will," said Audrey Hayden, a board member with Barkstown Rescue."If we turn a blind eye to these actions we are just as guilty as those who are committing these acts."
While Lewis plans to be in court next week to seek justice for himself, several people at the rally said they also plan to be at his court appearance in hopes that the dogs will get justice as well.