York man waives hearing in videotaped dog-beating case
A York City man caught on videotape punching, hitting and whipping his pit bull is facing trial after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing.
Luis Junior Cruz-Padro, 28, who lived in first block of East South Street until the video went viral on social media, appeared Tuesday afternoon before District Judge Ron Haskell Jr. and waived his animal-cruelty charge to York County Court, according to Haskell's staff.
Cruz-Padro is now staying with a friend who lives on Walnut Bottom Road in West Manchester Township.
A Humane Society police officer with the York County SPCA filed the first-degree misdemeanor charge after getting custody of Bugz, the 1½-year-old white pit bull seen badly beaten in a 2½-minute Facebook video. The beating happened Dec. 12, according to officials.
Melissa Smith, executive director of the York County SPCA, called the beating "deliberate, repeated and prolonged physical abuse."
The charge is punishable by not less than a $1,000 fine, no more than two years in prison, or both. Often in Pennsylvania, the offense of cruelty to animals is graded as a summary, akin to a traffic ticket, but the charge can also be graded as a misdemeanor for maiming or torturing, and as a felony for dog fighting.
Bugz suffered a broken rib and bruising to his side from the beating, according to Smith.
Went viral: The graphic, difficult-to-watch video went viral online Dec. 14, prompting dozens of people to alert the SPCA, Smith said. When an SPCA official arrived at the scene that day, a mob of animal lovers had formed and a private animal rescue had already taken custody of Bugz, Smith said.
That rescue turned over Bugz to SPCA Humane Officer Nicole Lawrence, who was also able to take custody of an 8- to 10-week old white pit bull pup that lived in Cruz-Padro's home and was sired by Bugz, Smith said.
Cruz-Padro hadn't named that pup, but SPCA staffers christened her Willa, and she has been adopted. His fiancee owned both dogs.
Bugz remains in foster care and eventually will be available for adoption, Smith said.
He was tied to a pole and repeatedly punched, hit and whipped Dec. 12 in the back yard of his former York City home on South Street and is expected to make a full recovery, she said.
Numerous people have submitted adoption applications for Bugz and those applications are being reviewed, Smith said, but for now he is being fostered by an SPCA staffer.
Cruz-Padro has told The York Dispatch that since the video went viral, he's received threats, including one man pointing a gun at him. He said he is currently residing with a friend to escape the threats.