Saturday, October 16, 2010

Man who dragged puppy awaits day in court

By Sylvia Lobato, Valley Courier

A Monte Vista man who allegedly became intoxicated and abused his puppy faces aggravated cruelty to animals charges in connection with the incident.

Reports from the Monte Vista Police Department indicate that a citizen called in a complaint at about 9:48 p.m. Oct. 12, stating that a male, dressed in a white shirt and white pants, was kicking and hitting a dog while walking near Ski-Hi Park on Sherman Ave., and had been dragging it, possibly in the belief that it was dead.

Patrolman Lawrence Becktold responded late Tuesday and reportedly observed a male, later identified as Michael Lee Villalba, 31, holding onto a length of chain and dragging a small, brown and white pit bull puppy.

“I observed that the puppy was still alive and was flat on the ground, using its four legs and paws to try to stop the male from dragging it,” Becktold reported.

Becktold got out of his vehicle and ordered Villalba to place his hands on the front of the patrol car. Villalba allegedly didn’t comply until another officer arrived, the report said.

Villalba was eventually handcuffed and placed into the rear seating area of Becktold’s patrol car, and the officer reported that he observed blood on Villalba’s shirt, pants and shoes.

In the meantime, the puppy had hidden under the patrol car. When it was finally retrieved, the responding officers took control of it and attempted to remove the chain, which was very tight around the puppy’s neck.

After the chain was removed, the small dog was wrapped in a blanket and transported to the police station. Becktold photographed the puppy’s injuries and contacted Curtis Crawford, DVM, at Alpine Veterinary Clinic.

Dr. Crawford said the puppy appeared to have been choked “pretty hard” and that the white portion of its eyes was bloody, consistent with being choked.

He examined the wounds on the puppy’s legs and paws and said the animal appeared to have been dragged for “quite a while.” All four of the dog’s feet were bandaged and he was given pain medication and antibiotics.

Villalba reportedly was combative and had to be secured to the booking room wall.

His blood alcohol content reportedly tested at 0.234.

He was advised of his charges and bond was set at $200. He was placed in a cell and given the opportunity to use the telephone.

Villalba was advised Wednesday afternoon by Municipal Judge John Wilder, who released him on his own recognizance, but would not return the dog until the charges were settled in court.

The injured puppy was taken to the Conour Animal Shelter and Villalba was told he would be charged $10 a day until his court date at 8 a.m. Nov. 10, or he could relinquish the dog and it would be put up for adoption.

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