‘A bloodbath’: Alabama man reversed his motorboat into their dog Cletus, family says

An Alabama family says they want justice for their dog Cletus, who was killed on Lake Martin on July 16.
An Alabama family says they want justice for their dog Cletus, who was killed on Lake Martin on July 16. Sonya McGowan/Facebook screenshot

An outing to the lake turned into a “bloodbath” last week when a man ran over a dog with his boat, ramming him into the spinning propeller and killing him, an Alabama family says.

Now that family wants justice, and they want it in the form of a felony charge, ABC 33/40 reported.

Sonya McGowan, a friend of the dog’s owners who was on the lake with them, wrote about the incident on Facebook in gruesome detail Sunday.

She wrote that she and the other family were boating on Lake Martin, a large lake about 20 miles northeast of Montgomery, on July 16 when they began exploring Goat Island. The island is known for sometimes being home to small herds of goats, according to Lake Martin Services.

McGowan wrote that her mother spotted one of the goats and the dog, named Cletus, swimming near the shore. She wrote that the family was concerned about the safety of the animals, and so they decided to go closer to help.

Then a man appeared in a pontoon boat and blocked their path while asking whether Cletus was their dog, she wrote.

“At first it appeared that the man on the pontoon boat was going to save both animals. However, after he pulled closer up he ran right over our boxer and went straight for the goat. The tired and now injured Cletus bobbed up out of the water after getting hit and struggled to try and climb up on the pontoon boat,” she wrote.

“My mom and our friends were yelling cut your motor off, cut (your) motor off, the man replied as he lifted the goat onto his boat, ‘I don’t give a damn about your dog,’” McGowan wrote.

She wrote that the man ignored their yells and reversed the boat, smashing Cletus with the motor and killing him in what she said a witness described as “horrific, cruel and preventable.”

McGowan told ABC 33/40 the man flew into a “rage” afterward and then left.

“We love the goats, we love the dogs, we love all animals. We love people, but not like this. He had no remorse at all. He cursed at us after he did it. He had no remorse whatsoever,” she told the station.

On Facebook, she asked for prayers to get “justice for this horrific crime.”

The Elmore County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation and was able to track down the driver of the boat, the Alexander City Outlook reported. Sheriff Bill Franklin told the paper that police had intended to arrest the driver on a felony animal cruelty charge, but the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor by the district attorney’s office.

Cletus’ owners wouldn’t have it and refused to sign the warrant, saying they would settle for nothing less than the felony charge, Franklin told

“I can really appreciate where the victims are coming from,” Franklin told the site. “Cletus is going to get some justice. It’s just going to take some time.”

He told the site a grand jury will hear the case later in the fall and determine what, if any, charges to bring against the man.

A petition for upgraded charges reached more than 3,000 signatures Thursday morning.

Franklin said one man received threats online after some believed he was the driver. Franklin said that man was not the suspect. “That particular gentleman has nothing to do with nothing. He doesn’t know what’s going on,” the sheriff told the Alexander City Outlook.

The family says they only want justice for their lost pet.

“We aren’t looking for revenge, we want him to be held accountable for the life he has taken. People need to think about the consequences of acting out in anger, especially when it comes to animals.,” the dog’s owner Baleigh Jones said, according to ABC 33/40. “They feel pain, they have emotions, and they are important too.”

A Miami Beach firefighter saves the life of a dog struggling to swim in this video. Fire officials said they received an animal rescue call, notifying them about the dog in the water. “We see a dog about 25 yards out,” rookie firefighter Emilio Sa