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Two facing animal cruelty charges

James Johnson

Bruce Pafford

by Danny Wade

Two men are facing charges for animal cruelty after an explosion of posts made on social media. A video of two city of Humboldt workers killing a dog by knocking it in the head with a shovel surfaced on Facebook, causing quite a stir.

According to Humboldt police, on January 4, 2021 the Humboldt Police Department received information about a possible animal abuse. After an investigation into the incident, two city of Humboldt employees, Bruce Lynn Pafford, 56-year-old male of Humboldt, and James Johnson, 76-years-old male of Humboldt, have both been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.

The two were taken to Gibson County Jail in Trenton, Tenn. Their bonds were set at $10,000 each. They are scheduled to be arraigned in General Sessions Court in Humboldt on April 7 at 9 a.m.

“After completion of the Humboldt Police Department’s investigation into this matter, I was informed that the dog in question was reportedly struck by a vehicle in the area of Helena Chemical Company and the animal control officers (dog catchers) were dispatched by the Humboldt Police Department to retrieve the dog,” Humboldt Mayor Marvin Sikes stated. “When animal control arrived, they determined that the dog had been struck by a vehicle and was not in very good condition. The dog had major head trauma. The citizen who made the original call to the police apparently took a photograph of the dog, which was later uploaded to the internet. The two animal control officers loaded the dog up and transported it to the city shop where the dog pound is located. This is where the incident happened.”

According to the mayor, witnesses of the incident at the city shop saw the two employees remove the dog from the cage by a pole and rope apparatus, which is normally used to catch and remove dogs from the cage. One man removed the dog from the truck and held it on the ground with the pole apparatus while the other man beat the dog in the head with a stick or a pole until it was dead.
A process hearing of the two employees was also held Thursday, January 7 with both employees in attendance. Mayor Sikes, city attorney Randy Camp and the employees’ direct supervisor Willie Reed attended the hearing as well.

Mayor Sikes said the dog should have been taken to the veterinarian to determine its fate. Sikes said he has no defense the action Johnson and Pafford took.

“I, as mayor, did give the employees a chance to explain their actions and I gave them their due process, as required by personnel policies,” Mayor Sikes noted. “The investigation did show that these employees did do what they had been accused of. I gave both of the employees the option to resign or I would be asking the board of alderman to terminate them on the next board meeting January 25th.”

Johnson and Pafford both turned in their resignations to Mayor Sikes. Their last day on the job was Friday, January 8.

District Attorney Frederick Agee said in Tennessee, aggravated animal cruelty is a class E-Felony and comes with a one to two year sentence depending on a person’s criminal background.

“Everyone has cooperated in the investigation including the two employees,” DA Agee said. “Sgt. (Jonathan) Wilson and Lt. (Tony) Williams put a lot of time into this investigation before charging them. They worked three days on the case and were professional and very quick (in the investigation).”
“I will not tolerate the actions being claimed,” Mayor Sikes said in a statement. “I promise I will not accept this kind of behavior from any city employee.”


  1. Susan on January 8, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    That’s the way this should be handled. Shame on these dog catchers! Now throw the book at them!

    • Nancy Tri on February 19, 2021 at 2:42 pm

      These two need to be prosecuted and jailed for at last 5 years each, and also be required to attend therapy and also compassion for animal training. This cycle of horrible treatment of animals needs to stop!! This poor dog did not deserve this horrific treatment and these two are monsters for inflicting such horrible pain- there has to be something mentally wrong with them! Prayers for this poor dog and the others I am sure they tortured. I wish the person filming had intervened and made his presence known maybe the poor dog would still be alive 🙁

      • Maren Erickson on February 19, 2021 at 5:11 pm

        Please recognize that these are the actions of sociopaths… this is not about mental health, this is about severely impaired, perhaps irreparable, character. This type of person gets off on cruelty; has likely harmed many, and will delight in harming more. Please prosecute to the absolute fullest.

      • Vickie L Martin on October 10, 2021 at 10:33 pm

        see, why don’t the people that witness horrors like this, intervene in some way and stop the pain this poor baby was subjected to. I’m sure enough people and it could have ended before the first blow. Poor baby, I am so sorry It’s all I can see when I close my eyes

    • Elizabeth on February 19, 2021 at 2:53 pm

      Despicable excuses for a human!! I hope they rot in jail for life. This dog could very well have been saved if it received proper care. I STRONGLY suggest their backgrounds be fully investigated by the DA because if they did this to a vulnerable horrifically injured and completely defenseless animal, without a doubt, this is NOT the first time they have done this. They need to look where they tried to hide the body. I hope they pay for this heinous act of cowardice and cruelty.

      • Natalija on February 19, 2021 at 4:54 pm

        I agree with Elizabeth – this is definitely not the first time these two CREEPS abused and harmed/killed a defenseless animal! Absolutely disgusting – I’m sick to my stomach reading this. Those two evil men need to go to jail and NEVER have access to another animal!

  2. Nanette Valencia on January 9, 2021 at 12:14 am

    Cruel lowlifes, I hope they serve time

  3. Roslyn Pollinger on January 9, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    One to two years is a joke!! At least 5 years in jail!! It is horrifying what they did to that poor dog!! Animal abuse should NOT be tolerated. And these POS work with animals???
    Fire them and Fine them then 5 years in jail!!

  4. Beatrice atkins on January 10, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    I believe it should be an eye for an eye, if you can prove without a doubt a individual or individuals committed that offense they should have to sustain that same horrific act they have conflicted, whether it be a animal or human. Its so
    sad, how someone can be so evil.

  5. Julie Cookson on January 14, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    Prosecute these creeps; what a horrific and unacceptable act!

  6. ayn silverman on February 19, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    these two men are a disgrace-they need to go to jail–this is horrific-a poor innocent dog??? they are immoral. No excuse for their actions.

  7. Jay on February 19, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    scumbags! God bless Rain

  8. Deborah Tyler on February 19, 2021 at 10:51 pm

    How did these slime bags even get jobs there in the first place? What other horrors are the poor animals subjected to?
    These aholes need to rot in jail.

  9. Riaz Mian on February 21, 2021 at 4:55 pm

    “A society is judged first and foremost by the way it treats its animals.” Mahatma Gandhi. May the sweet innocent creature of God Rest In Peace. May these two lost souls, who were entrusted with providing basic humanity and decency to the gravely injured and scared animal, face swift and severe Tennessee justice now and the ultimate justice soon, for this vile and despicable act of depravity and cruelty.

  10. Gfm on February 22, 2021 at 12:31 am

    Judge put Bruce Lynn Pafford and James Johnson in prison with maximum time!!! Think what that dog went through!!! It may have had an owner! These two men are evil scum and should not be near any animals for the rest of their lives

  11. Melissa S Walter on June 23, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    As someone educated in the mental health field – 5 years is not enough. They need to be in prison asap and crimes against animals should be punished as if this was done to a CHILD. The same sick mentality applies I assure you. I’m so tired of hearing these kind of stories and until sociopaths like these two are locked up FOREVER, it will just keep happening!!

  12. O Olon on August 18, 2022 at 6:34 pm

    OMG, they got caught this time WHAT OTHER EVIL AND VILE THINGS DID THESE TWO MONSTERS DO BUT DIDN’T GET CAUGHT? This make me sick, disgusted, angry and will follow up to make sure these two are severely punished.

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