JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – Marine Cpl. Benjamin Asher Link, 21, of Jacksonville, faces two counts each of cruelty to animals and improper disposition of dead domesticated animals, and one count of assaulting a government official, resulting from head butting the officer who arrested him and was trying to secure him for transport to the Jacksonville Police Department, according to warrants.
Link allegedly drowned two young puppies, one pit bull and one pit lab mix, both under 8 weeks, then put the animals' bodies in a plastic bag and threw them into a dumpster behind his home on Hargett Street, according to the Jacksonville Daily News.
Neighbors deny any warning signs that could have alerted them to the possibility the 21-year-old Marine would commit such a heinous act. Tomara Burge told WCTI NewsChannel 12 that Link had complained to her about the puppies before, "He was talking about how they weren't potty trained but it was kind of aggravating and he was going to get through it… I just didn't think it'd come to that."
Another neighbor, Madeline Fleshman, said that Link was a “nice guy.” But a prior experience could have been a warning sign. Fleshman said she was alarmed when she discovered a stray dog she had rescued from the streets belonged to Link. She recalled that, when he saw the dog he said he didn’t want her back, “…he walks up and goes, you have my dog… you've been taking care of her… do you want to keep her?"
Link made his first appearance in Onslow County District Court on Monday, March 5, 2012. He is now in the Onslow County jail on a $25,000 bond. It wasn't clear if he had a lawyer, according to ABCLocal.
Alan Davis, the Director of Onslow County Animal Services, told NewsChannel 12 that anyone believing an animal may be in any kind of danger should alert authorities immediately. Although in this case, there may have been no obvious signs that signaled an impending tragedy,
Davis said any of the following suggests an animal may be in trouble:
-- An animal tied outside without adequate food or water
-- An animal with a body weight that is inappropriate for its size and breed
-- An animal left outside without proper shelter