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Freshly shaved and eager to make new friends, a pit bull badly beaten on video less than a week ago spent most of Thursday charming members of the local media.

And despite his less-than-ideal past life, Bugz already has a few tricks up his sleeve, according to Melissa Smith, executive director of the York County SPCA.

"He knows 'sit' and 'stay', and he does seem to be food-oriented," she said, meaning he understands he can earn a treat by following humans' commands.

That means someone showed Bugz love, or at least positive reinforcement, Smith said.

The 1½-year-old white pit bull also has a penchant for playing in water, according to Smith.

"He loves to put his blankets in his water dish," she said, then use his paws to slosh around the soggy fabric. "He gets a lot of bedding changes."

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VIDEO: Rescued pit bull Bugz recuperating at SPCA

Plenty of kisses: Bugz enthusiastically bestowed kisses on a reporter and enjoyed climbing into her lap and onto her shoulders, despite the fact that he is much too big to be a lap dog.

But his limitations quickly showed themselves. Some members of the media frightened Bugz, according to Smith, and not because the humans said or did anything wrong.

"They were all taller men," she said. "When he saw them he stopped dead in his tracks."

And although Bugz' affection for Smith was clear, he flinched at one point when she gestured as she spoke.

"Quick movements really do scare him, and rightly so," she said.

'Horrendous' beating: Bugz was repeatedly punched, hit and whipped Saturday in the back yard of his former York City home at 23 E. South St. in what Smith called deliberate, repeated and prolonged abuse. He suffered a broken rib and bruising to his side but will make a full recovery, she said. The fur on his side and part of his muzzle was shaved so medical staff could assess his injuries, Smith said.

A 2½-minute video of the beating went viral on Monday, prompting the York County SPCA, York City Police and a mob of concerned people to gather at the home. SPCA Humane Society Police Officer Nicole (Boyer) Lawrence took Bugz into custody, as well his 8- to 10-week-old daughter, now named Willa.

The man who authorities said beat Bugz — Luis Junior Cruz-Padro — fled the area; his whereabouts are unknown.

Cruz-Padro, 28, who Smith said was living at 23 E. South St. with his girlfriend or fiancee, remains a fugitive, wanted on a first-degree misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty.

"(Cruz-Padro) tied Bugz to a pole for the purpose of beating that dog," Smith said. "It's horrendous."

Bugz and Willa were technically owned by Cruz-Padro's girlfriend or fiancee, according to Smith, but she relinquished them to the SPCA.

Moved out: Smith said witnesses have told Lawrence that the people who lived at 23 E. South St. packed up their belongings and moved out earlier this week.

"We have also received some calls from people who have acquired dogs from that location and wanted to express their concerns," she said.

Willa, who is white with one brilliant blue eye and one dark brown one, is already spoken for and is going to a wonderful home, according to Smith.

About 25 people have submitted adoption applications for Bugz, and those applications are being reviewed, she said.

For now, Bugz will be fostered by an SPCA staffer who has already been spending time with him, according to Smith.

The best for Bugz: That will give staffers time to observe Bugz and identify his likes, dislikes, fears and triggers, she said. That way, the SPCA can find an adoptive home that best meets his needs.

But there are plenty of animals in the shelter right now that in need of loving homes.

Smith said the SPCA currently has 143 dogs and 235 cats in the shelter, in foster care and at satellite adoption locations. There are also "loads" of rabbits and guinea pigs, seven pot-bellied pigs, ferrets, birds, a chincilla, a Russian tortoise and a bearded dragon, she said. Bearded dragons are lizards.

For information about adopting a pet from the York County SPCA, visit www.ycspca.org.

Anyone with information about Cruz-Padro's whereabouts is asked to call the SPCA at (717) 764-6109 or the York County Detective Bureau at (717) 771-9600.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com

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