Thursday, February 19, 2009

Man Beats Puppy, Breaks Ribs, Jaw

The following story and accompanying photo come from the February 8, 2009 Los Angeles Times.

Furious that his girlfriend had broken up with him and stopped taking his calls, Steven Butcher decided to take his anger out on the couple's small puppy.

"Every time you . . . don't pick up the phone, I am beating the dog," Butcher said in an angry voice-mail message he left for his ex-girlfriend. In a later message, as the dog yelped and cried in the background, he said: "You got some more of the dog getting beat."

When police officers arrived at Butcher's Reseda home, they found Nelia, the pit bull puppy, shivering in a sink with cold water running over her. The animal's jaw had been broken, her eye sockets had been fractured and several of her ribs had been cracked.

Butcher, 23, was charged and convicted last year of animal cruelty -- one of a growing number of serious animal abuse cases in Los Angeles, where police and prosecutors say they are taking crimes against animals more seriously than ever.

The Los Angeles Police Department has devoted five officers and detectives to a task force dedicated to investigating animal abuse and neglect. The county district attorney's office recently began training a select group of prosecutors to handle animal-related cases and is seeking tougher sentences for repeat offenders.

In the case of Nelia, the beaten puppy, police said her owner also threatened to kill his girlfriend during some of his phone calls. He was sentenced last year to 270 days in jail for animal cruelty, placed on five years' probation and ordered to undergo counseling. The puppy survived and was adopted out when authorities suspected that Butcher's ex-girlfriend might reconcile with him, police said.

The optimist may find the proverbial silver lining in the dark cloud by observing the fact that the pup ended up in her "forever home", but I ask you how much abuse must a Pit Bull take before it gets someone's attention? You've also got to wonder about the possibility of the girlfriend reconciling with this person. What is she thinking? Let's just hope they never end up with another dog.

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