Manassas Park Police Chief Tom Stone, who doubles as director of the city's animal control program, is being asked to appear in Prince William County District Court this week to answer a criminal charge of cruelty to animals.
Stone, who has been police chief for three months, refused comment on the summons which has not yet been served.
The summons, issued Jan. 9, has not been served because of a long standing policy of Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert that summonses and warrants issued against police must have his approval before being served, said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Stuart Robeson Jr., who is handling the case.
The summons was issued for allegedly substandard conditions at the city's makeshift animal shelter, a barn at Euclid Avenue and Blooms Road which has come under sharp attack from state and county humane officers for six months.
Last week, 19 dogs in the shelter were transferred to the county shelter in Independent Hill where one humane officer said the dogs looked dehydrated and underfed. In July, a state humane officer formally condemned the structure. He said there was not enough lihgt, the cages were substandard, the animals were given too little water and drains were backed up with urine and feces.
"They (the cages) were just rickety old pieces of chicken wire separating the animals," said Walter Lane, vice president of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies. "They just pick 'em up, throw 'em in there and put 'em to sleep," he said.
Manassas Park City Manager Walda Ferguson refused to comment on the charge but said she did not consider the city's shelter to be substandard. The city, she said, is considering building a new structure or contracting with neighboring communities for use of their facilities.
When a summons is issued by a magistrate, it must be served regardless of the prosecutor's feelings about the case, said Steven A. Merril, deputy commonwealth's attorney for Fairfax County. Fairfax County has special policy with regard to summonses or warrants issued against police, he said.
The summons sets Wednesday as the trial date. If convicted, Stone could face a maximum of one year in jail ad a posible $1,000 fine, according to Magistrate Linda Poe, who issued the summons.