Handcuffs photographed Tuesday, December 26, 2017.

A Central man was arrested Sunday night after deputies started investigating a domestic violence incident and discovered two pugs dead from gunshot wounds in his backyard. Both dogs belonged to the abuse victim.

The arrest of Robert Perry III, 36, comes amid a significant spike in domestic violence cases, including homicides, over the past several months — an increase experts link generally to pandemic hardship and disruptions to social services for abuse victims. East Baton Rouge jail booking records show at least a dozen people were arrested on domestic violence counts over Christmas weekend alone.

"Mr. Perry was extremely intoxicated," the woman told deputies about his behavior during their argument, according to the arrest report.

Sometime after the argument, Perry photographed one of the dogs with a gunshot wound to the head, deputies said. He sent the picture to a close family member of the victim.

The woman later contacted law enforcement, requesting that officers escort her back to the house on Rustling Oaks Drive in Central, the scene of the recent argument, according to the report. When she and the officers arrived, they found her beloved pugs, Phobi and Roscoe, shot to death behind the house.

"Upon walking to the rear of the residence, I observed a small, light brown pug breed dog, later identified as Phobi, unresponsive and bleeding near the rear door," the responding deputy wrote. "I observed Phobi to have one single gunshot wound to the head."

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At that point, the victim "became extremely emotional by crying and shaking profusely," the report says.

After searching frantically for her second dog, the deputy found Roscoe near the pool, also with a single gunshot wound. The officer also found shell casings from a .380 caliber handgun near the dogs, and the victim said Perry owns that type of gun, according to the report.

Neighbors reported hearing gunshots early Sunday morning between 5 and 5:30 a.m., deputies said.

The responding officer called Perry, who claimed to know nothing about the dead dogs, the report says, but the photograph suggested otherwise.

A warrant was issued for his arrest, and Perry was booked into jail Sunday night on two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and illegal use of weapons.

Court records show his criminal history in East Baton Rouge is limited to traffic violations and a marijuana possession arrest from 2014.

Email Lea Skene at