OCEAN CITY — A local resident and former Ocean City mayoral candidate pleaded guilty last week to aggravated animal cruelty for killing his dog in September and was sentenced to three years, all but six months of which was suspended.
Around 8:15 a.m. on Sept. 10, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer responded to a residence on Gulf Stream Drive for a report of two neighbors arguing over a deceased dog. The officer met with a witness who told police she was walking her dog when she observed Joseph Cryer, 53, of Ocean City, placing a deceased dog in a trash can. The witness told police Cryer was arguing with another unidentified neighbor.
The officer approached Cryer, who reportedly told police, “they killed my dog.” When the officer asked Cryer his name, he replied Jesus Christ, according to police reports. The officer asked Cryer if the dog in the trash can was his, he responded yes, and when asked how the dog died, Cryer told police his neighbors killed the animal due to “lack of love,” according to police reports.
When asked his name again, Cryer provided police with his real name. According to police reports, Cryer had scratches on his hand and dried blood on his pants. The officer then followed a trail of blood drops from the driveway to Cryer’s back yard. In the back yard, the officer found a pool of blood around two feet in diameter in the grass.
When the officer again asked what happened to the dog, Cryer reportedly told police the dog “had gone to heaven to be with my brother,” according to police reports. When asked how that was accomplished, Cryer reportedly bent over and made a motion as if picking up the dog and lifting him toward the sky, according to police reports.
The officer asked Cryer how he got the dog to go to heaven and he told police he hit the dog on the head, saying eventually, “I used a hammer. It was extremely painful,” according to police reports.
OCPD animal control officers removed the dog from the trash can and determined its throat had been cut. The animal control officers also noticed the dog had a hole in his head consistent with Cryer’s story of hitting it with a hammer.
Cryer was charged with aggravated animal cruelty and animal cruelty. Last week, after his guilty plea, he was also placed on supervised probation for three years upon his release. Cryer was administered a competency hearing and was deemed fit to stand trial.
Cryer had announced his candidacy for Ocean City mayor in 2018, but withdrew his candidacy prior to the election. At the time, he told the sitting Mayor and Council that he was withdrawing to pursue his international ministry. He also advised the elected officials to invest in making the Ocean City Airport a spaceport to accommodate future extraterrestrial visitors. He also ran for City Council in 2014 to no avail.