An Omaha man has been cited for animal cruelty after allegedly beating a dog because it wouldn't stop barking. The rat terrier mix had injuries severe enough that it had to be euthanized.
The dog, named Pompoo, was tethered on the back porch of an apartment at 75th and Howard Streets on Monday morning.
Pompoo's owner, Catalina Snyder, says 57-year-old Kevin Cleavenger knocked on her door, but she didn't answer because she was scared of Cleavenger. Then she said she heard yelping and saw Cleavenger slamming her dog repeatedly to the ground before leaving.
Catalina's husband Michael couldn't believe the man would do such a thing. "He took my dog by the leash and slammed him on the ground four times, as hard as he could do it, and then when he wasn't moving no more he went back up to his place."
Catalina Snyder says, "I didn't say anything because I was scared and then after that the dog is laying there and I thought he was dead."
Mark Langan at the Nebraska Humane Society said the dog's injuries were severe. Pompoo had internal bleeding and was euthanized. "This was a very vicious attack, there was absolutely no reason for it whatsoever."
Langan said there are better ways to handle a barking dog, like calling the Humane Society at 444-7800 or Omaha Police after hours.
"It still never ceases to amaze me how mean and stupid people can be and this is a perfect example right here, there's absolutely no excuse for what this person did," said Langan.
The Nebraska Humane Society cited the suspect for misdemeanor animal cruelty, but a felony is still possible.
Langan says, "In order to prove felony animal cruelty, you have to show one of four things: repeated beatings, mutilation, torture or abandonment resulting in serious injury, illness or death to the animal."
"Repeated" beating could be the key for a felony in this case, plus intentional and knowing harm must be shown.
Since the state enacted the felony law in 2003, there have been felony animal cruelty cases in the metro. In 2004, the first case, Jariel Pittman was sentenced to at least 16 months in jail. In 2005, Anthony Schepis was sentenced to one to two years.
Now Langan says, it's time to evaluate Pompoo's death. "The county attorney's office has to look at it in a black and white fashion - can they prove the facts in court - and I trust their opinion as to the decisions they make."
The Douglas County Attorney's Office will be looking over this case Thursday to decide whether it's misdemeanor or a felony. A felony charge is a maximum of five years and/or a $10,000 fine. A misdemeanor is up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.