In an alleged case of animal cruelty, a man from Rockwell, North Carolina, was pictured walking a dog with a leash that appeared to be pulling a brick.

The Rockwell Police issued a misdemeanor citation against 28-year-old Scottie Lee Lewis after the picture of him walking a dog near a convenience store parking lot went viral on social media. In the photo, the canine appeared to be pulling a brick that was attached to a rope behind him. The investigation began after the police received a call asking them to check on the welfare of the canine.

The officers then contacted the accused who told them he was “strength training” the animal for it to “look muscular.” Lewis also told police the canine was stolen from him. There was no information regarding the whereabouts of the dog.

Dr. Rebekah Julian, a doctor of veterinary medicine, said, “It could definitely cause permanent injury to their limbs if they are attached to a heavy object like that. We need to approach this in a compassionate manner, be very firm as far as animal cruelty, but also we need to get information out to people on how to properly care, how to properly train animals so that they can protect us, be strong, but in a very humane way.”

According to records, Lewis has several unrelated charges pending including assault inflicting serious bodily injury, common law robbery, possession of stolen goods and numerous vehicle break-ins.

The incident comes days after a dog sitter was caught on camera dragging and abusing three pets while their owner was on a vacation. Cindy Gruss, the dog owner who cut short her trip after seeing the live CCTV footage, said she was shaken when she saw the dog sitter abusing the animals by dragging them and spraying water at them from the backyard hose. Gruss said the behavior of the pets changed since the incident.

In this image, a dog's paw reaches through the kennel fence at the Queen Anne's County Department of Animal Service in Queenstown, Maryland, Jan. 24, 2008. Getty Images/Jim Watson