Zachary police stock

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

A Zachary police officer was arrested on animal cruelty counts after authorities found his two dogs dead inside a residence, officials said Friday.

The officer, Ashton Blount, received a court summons Wednesday for two counts of animal cruelty. Records show he was not booked into jail, an unusual way of handling a felony case. Usually suspects are booked for almost all felonies and even violent misdemeanors. 

Zachary Police Chief David McDavid said Blount had been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation.

McDavid said animal control officers completed the investigation and issued the summons. A spokesman for East Baton Rouge Animal Control did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon. 

McDavid was unable to explain why Blount received a summons, saying that was a question for Animal Control.

News of the arrest surfaced Friday afternoon after the Zachary Police Department posted a somewhat cryptic message on its Facebook page, saying an officer had been arrested without releasing a name or the charges. 

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"The Zachary Police Department is not involved in the criminal investigation, but is cooperating with the arresting agency," McDavid said in the post. "This investigation is ongoing and as such, I cannot comment on the details."

But a source with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said law enforcement responded to a residence off Port Hudson-Pride Road north of Zachary on Tuesday. There, officers found two dogs dead inside, apparently after having been abandoned for an extended period of time. Officials believe the dogs belonged to Blount.

Animal control officers were called to take over the investigation when authorities found no other evidence of possible criminal activity.

McDavid said Blount has been with the police department for two years, a promising young officer. The chief said he was disappointed to receive news of the complaint, but emphasized that the investigation is ongoing.

"Law enforcement officers, like the citizens we serve, should be held accountable for their actions," he said in the Facebook post. "I believe in full, fair and thorough investigations and have faith that justice will be served at the conclusion of this investigation."

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