CALIFORNIA -- A Redwood City man pleaded not guilty to animal abuse and child endangerment charges Monday, three days after he was arrested on suspicion of torturing and later killing his family's puppy, "Lucky," in front of his young daughter.
Alan Velete, 31, entered the plea on charges of felony animal abuse and misdemeanor child endangerment stemming from a month of alleged animal torture that culminated in the death of the 4-month-old dog, authorities said. The majority of the abuse, which began when the man moved in with his girlfriend and her mother in early December, allegedly took place in the presence of his 4-year-old daughter.
Velete was arrested Friday after his girlfriend's mother called police to report he had killed the family's terrier mix and thrown it in a trash bin, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
The man's girlfriend told authorities that she had been afraid to call police on the man, who was convicted of domestic abuse against her in 2011 and is on felony probation for assault with a deadly weapon.
According to Wagstaffe, the man moved in to the apartment in the 300 block of Redwood Avenue with his young daughter, her mother and their dog despite a restraining order prohibiting him from coming near the child's grandmother. The abuse began after Lucky went to the bathroom on the floor one day in early December, enraging Velete and prompting a series of violent acts upon the dog.
Over the next several weeks, Velete allegedly kicked and punched the puppy repeatedly, sprayed household cleaner in his eyes, fed him psychiatric drugs and taped his mouth closed. Prosecutors said he would also put Lucky inside a duffel bag and hang him from a showerhead, listening to the dog whimper for hours on end.
Lucky eventually succumbed on Jan. 6, after Velete used his hands to suffocate - and finally kill - the small animal, Wagstaffe said. Investigators were unable to locate the dog's body because of the timing of trash pickup, and a Recology alert was issued to be on the lookout for the duffel bag in question.
Velete was handed an additional charge of child endangerment after authorities discovered his daughter had witnessed multiple acts of torture and began emulating them herself, Wagstaffe said.
The child made comments to detectives about her father's beating of the dog, and more disturbingly, was seen kicking the dog's empty crate and screaming "Bad Dog!" while investigators were in the home, he said.
"We learn this with domestic violence, that men learn it from their fathers, women from their mothers -- the generational passing is spoken of all the time," Wagstaffe said. "That's without a doubt what's happening here. The harm that was done to this little girl ... I wish there was a felony for that."
Velete was given a court-appointed attorney, and remains in jail in lieu of $37,500 bail.
(Mercury News - Jan 15, 2014)