York City dogs seized after video of beating goes viral
A York City dog beaten and whipped by a man over the weekend is now safe at the York County SPCA, as is a puppy that lived in the same home.
Saturday's beating was caught on videotape and went viral on Facebook, according to Melissa Smith, executive director of the agency.
"As an animal lover and as a human being, I found this video extremely disturbing and infuriating, and the first thing I wanted to do was to save that dog from future abuse," she said. "We responded immediately. ... The good news is, both the adult dog and the pup are safe."
Humane Police Officer Nicole Boyer with the York County SPCA is investigating and working with York City Police, according to Smith.
The beating: In the 2½-minute video, the man can be seen dragging the white pit bull by the collar, then punching him repeatedly in the ribs. He also slaps and punches the dog in the face. He also grabs a long lead or rope and whips the dog repeatedly.
The pit bull cowers and tries to get away, but never tries to bite the man or defend itself in any way, even when the man puts his face inches from the dog's and yells at him.
Smith said her agency received an email Monday morning alerting them to the videotaped beating of the male dog at the hands of a man in the yard of 23 E. South St.
Boyer was conducting a different animal rescue when the SPCA got that email, but she went to the York City home as soon as she finished, according to Smith.
Viral video: By that time, the video had gone viral and there was a mob of concerned people gathering in the block, she said.
Someone with a private animal rescue had already taken possession of the beaten dog, which Boyer then took custody of, Smith said.
Boyer convinced a resident of the home to turn over custody of the small puppy seen in the video, Smith said.
"The person with the rescue told Nicole the man (who beat the dog) said he 'lost his cool,'" Smith said. Boyer was told that the apparent dog-beater gave the dog to the rescue person, then ran away down the street, Smith said.
"We did not witness that," she said.
Smith said the first priority is always to get an abused or neglected animal to safety, but that people need to give authorities a window of time to get that done.
"Rescues and well-intentioned people really can do more harm than good," she said, explaining the dog is also technically evidence. Had the rescue not turned it over to the SPCA, making a case against the dog's attacker could have been difficult, she said.
Building a case: "Once an animal is out of harm's way, our next priority is making sure someone is held accountable for the abuse, and that's our focus now," Smith said. "There will definitely be (an animal cruelty) charge filed by the end of the week."
Still unknown is what grade of animal cruelty charge the man is facing, Smith said, and that will depend on whether to dog suffered injuries, and what the extent of those injuries might be.
As of about 4 p.m. Monday, the dog was still being examined by an SPCA veterinarian, she said.
Boyer has identified and spoken with the person who shot the video, Smith confirmed.
Police response: York City Police Lt. Matthew Leitzel said "quite a few animal groups" gathered in the neighborhood on Monday.
Mark McCartney, the department's animal enforcement officer, went to the scene, according to the lieutenant.
Leitzel also confirmed charges are pending against the man in the video, but said he was not yet sure which agency would file the charges — York City Police or the York County SPCA — or which charges will be filed.
Anyone with information about the beaten dog can call the York County SPCA at (717) 764-6109.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.