BENNINGTON -- An Arlington man is facing a felony charge after police said they found a dog that had starved to death on his property.

Ricky E. Thompson, 47, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to aggravated cruelty to animals. He was released under the condition he not possess animals while the case is pending.

According to an affidavit by Vermont State Trooper Elliott Justinger, on April 6 at 10 p.m. he was investigating a burglary at a home on Route 313 in Arlington. Thompson had given him and another trooper permission to search a barn, where they found a young beagle, dead.

Justinger said the dog was in a horse stable where a great deal of feces had accumulated. The animal’s food bowl was empty, and it appeared it had not been fed for a long time prior to expiring.

Thompson told police two of his dogs had died over the winter, one he had been able to bury while he was waiting for the ground to thaw for the second. He said both died of "kennel cough."

Justinger contacted the Bennington County State’s Attorney’s Office, which told him to have the dog’s body taken and examined. Local Game Warden Travis Buttle got the dog, and on April 24 a report came back showing it had starved to death.

According to a report from Linda Morris, a veterinarian at West Mountain Animal Hospital in Bennington, who examined the dog’s body, it was completely absent of fat. She wrote that on a "body condition system" scale ranging from one to nine, with five being optimal, the dog scored a one with its spine, hip, and rib bones being visible from a distance. There was nothing in its intestines besides some fluid and gas, and nothing in the stomach besides two small masses of black and green material.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.