A 36-year-old Lake Wales man was arrested on felony charges of animal cruelty after authorities say he strangled his son’s dog and left the animal for dead.
A 36-year-old Lake Wales man was arrested on felony charges of animal cruelty after authorities say he choked his son’s dog and left the animal for dead.
Cesar Sanchez Cruz was walking the family’s Chihuahua, named Canelo, when the dog started pulling against the leash, the Lake Wales Police Department said.
Cruz then lifted up the small animal by his neck with the leash, and a witness, who began recording video of the incident, said Cruz then appeared to choke Canelo before hurling him into the bushes near a pond.
When police responded to the incident, a bilingual police officer was sent to interview Cruz, who only speaks Spanish, according to his arrest affidavit.
According to the affidavit, Cruz told officers that he became angry because the dog was lying in the baby furniture at home.
The dog belonged to his son, and Cruz was building a doghouse for the animal, the LWPD said.
Officers said Cruz admitted what he did was wrong, and that he didn’t know if the dog was alive or dead when he threw it.
Cruz said he returned to look for the dog because he felt bad about what had happened, according to reports.
He was arrested on Miami Street just before midnight on June 7.
Officers initially could not find the dog, but the following day, Polk County Animal Control answered a call in the area regarding an injured stray dog.
“It turns out there is a silver lining in this investigation,” LWPD Deputy Chief Troy Schulze wrote in an email to The Ledger. “The person who called about the injured stray dog reported he believed it was the same dog thought to have been killed and thrown into a small lake.”
That person returned the dog to its owners, so on June 9, Polk County Animal Control visited the dog owner and it was observed that the 6-year-old Chihuahua was still alive and back at his residence, according to the LWPD.
During the follow-up investigation, the owners decided to surrender Canelo to the care and custody of Polk County Animal Control, Schulze said.
“Although we are sickened at the treatment Canelo received by his owner, Cesar Sanchez Cruz, we are happy Canelo is still alive and will be treated well at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Shelter,” Schulze said.
Kathy Leigh Berkowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 863-802-7558. Follow her on Twitter @kberkowitzthel1.