Home Neighbor who murdered Virginia vet’s service dog to be sentenced Wednesday

Neighbor who murdered Virginia vet’s service dog to be sentenced Wednesday

Joeseph Sande with Bear
Joeseph Sande with Bear, submitted

Every day still feels like a nightmare for Joeseph and Edith Sande as they continue to struggle with the realization that their service dog, Buddy Bear, was murdered by a neighbor.

The criminal case will come to a close on Wednesday as sentencing for their neighbor, Louis Edward Davis Jr., 67, is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. in Augusta County Circuit Court in Downtown Staunton.

Davis pleaded no contest on Feb. 14 to one felony charge of animal cruelty for shooting and killing the five-year-old husky on Sept. 15, 2023.

The sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of a Class 6 animal cruelty felony in Virginia ranges from one to five years in prison and a fine up to $2,500.

Anyone convicted of a felony in Virginia also loses the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for office, become a notary public, and most importantly, carry a firearm. The governor is the only person who can restore civil rights lost due to a felony conviction.

The Sandes were new to Virginia when this tragic shooting occurred just outside their property lines in the Cherry Orchard subdivision in Augusta County. They had never met Davis.

Buddy Bear, or Bear, for short, loved watermelon and treats. They were looking forward to snow to share the experience with Bear. Moving to Waynesboro, Joeseph told AFP, is one of the biggest regrets of his life.

“Every day feels like we are reliving that same day again. I still can’t believe that Bear’s not here anymore,” Edith said. “That wound will always be there, and we have to carry on. It all still feels like a nightmare to me.”

Joeseph, a veteran, said he spent two years training Bear to be his service dog. The Sandes said that Bear had basic commands down when they got him, so the two years were spent teaching him to help Joeseph with his disabilities.

Joeseph served in Afghanistan, Bagram, Kuwait and Iraq, and has night terrors and PTSD. Bear was trained to tap his nose on Joeseph or lick his arm to comfort him when he was anxious or showed any signs of distress. Bear also helped Joeseph with night terrors so he could sleep through the night.

“My anxiety and panic attacks have been through the roof,” Joeseph told AFP. He said he hasn’t slept through an entire night since losing Bear.

Without Bear, Edith has stepped in to a caregiving role for Joeseph and has had to take time off from her own career to be there for her husband.

“I feel like if I was still working, and he was going through all his struggles on his own, it would be unbearable to come home and see that every day,” Edith said. “It’s been difficult for both of us.”

The couple is hoping that the court sentencing will give them some closure.

“These months have been awful,” Joeseph said. “I’ve been anticipating this court case to have him (Davis) finally punished for what he did.

“Anyone who does something that horrific needs to be punished.”

The Sandes hope neighbors and animal rights advocates will attend the sentencing hearing to ensure justice for Buddy Bear.

Justice, in the words of Joeseph, would be Davis having all his firearms revoked for the rest of his life. The Sandes may or may not remain in Virginia after this tragedy, but regardless of what they decide to do, they want to make sure Davis could never harm any of their neighbors or their dogs. Joeseph and Edith would also like to see Davis serve prison time for his actions.

“If someone’s that irresponsible and that cruel, they shouldn’t be allowed to own firearms – to shoot an innocent animal that wasn’t even in their yard,” Joeseph said. “I’d like to have him go to jail for at least a year.

“It’s a murder,” Joeseph said. “He murdered my dog.”


Follow the story online at #justiceforbuddybear or read AFP archives here.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.