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Admitted dog dragger gets probation

March 30th, 2005, 10:34 AM
The Phoenix man who admitted to tying his dog to the bumper of his truck and dragging her as he drove away will serve two years' probation and cannot own an animal during that time.

Sandy's paw pads and nails were scraped off as she tried to keep up with the moving truck. Herminio Velasquez pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty last month. He was orginally charged with a felony.

In addition to the ruling that Velasquez cannot own any animals for the next two years, the judge also ruled that Sandy, the chow-chow that was dragged, would not be returned to him. She will be put up for adoption at the Arizona Humane Society.

Velasquez said the dog had run away and he tied her to his truck because he didn't want to get his clothes dirty.

Witnesses said they saw him dragging Sandy behind his truck for about a mile. She left a trail of bloody paw prints. The pads of her paws and nails were ripped away as she tried to keep up with the moving truck.

Standing in front of the judge this morning, Velasquez said he made a mistake and never meant to hurt Sandy.

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His lawyer, Humberto Gonzales, said Velasquez is not the monster the media was making him out to be.

"It's incredible that these people are here [in the courtroom] today…," he said "They're looking for a monster that doesn't exist."

"This is what it is," said Kim Noetzel of the Arizona Humane Society. "The media didn't tie the dog to the back of the truck and drag it down the street -- he did it. The media didn't make the bloody footprints along the sidewalk. That was the result of the dog's injuries."

Noetzel, who attended the sentencing, said she was pleased with the judge's decision. Noetzel also said that she doesn't believe Velasquez is a monster, just that he made a "terrible mistake."

Noetzel also believes that this case sends the message that animal cruelty -- even a single incident -- will not be tolerated.

Velasquez must complete 360 hours of community service and pay a $1,500 fine, as well as $1,200 restitution to cover Sandy's medical care.

Sandy has been in protective custody for more than seven months. During that time, she has been spayed, housetrained and learned to walk on a leash.

Sandy will be featured on "Pets on Parade," on Saturday, April 2. The show airs at 12:30 p.m. on 3TV. She will be available for adoption at 3 p.m. that day, and her adoption fee will be $75.