Robert Gonzales is accused of beating and burning his dog. He now faces felony charges for the alleged abuse. The dog is recovering with a foster family, while Gonzales awaits his day in court.
Gonzales is out on bail. He was originally booked on misdemeanor charges, but District Attorney Ed Jagels said the abuse was so severe, he decided to file felony charges.
Jagels said Gonzales gave conflicting statements to police about what happened to the dog, named Lacey. Jagels said what happened was no accident.
Police said Gonzales tethered Lacey to a tree at his home in southwest Bakersfield. He hit her in the mouth with a golf club and sprayed bleach in her eyes.
17 news tried to speak with Gonzales at his home several times Sunday and Monday, but there was no answer at the door.
Jagels said Gonzales faces 18 months to three years behind bars if convicted. On top of an animal cruelty charge, Gonzales also faces charges for possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and a switch blade knife. He is scheduled to be in court on December 29th.
"This is appalling, this sort of thing. The mistreatment of innocent animals is an egregious offense. It's a terrible thing," said Jagels.
A couple who lives next door to Gonzales told 17 news their daughter dated Gonzales and the two have three children together. The couple said she has a restraining order against him.
"I think he needs to be put up, put in jail. I think he needs to, especially with what he did that to the dog. And I think of my grandchildren. I mean, anything could set him off," said Sophia Sliter.
Dr. Craig Hammans from Coffee Road Animal Hospital performed surgery on Lacey. He said there is no doubt the dog will live. His biggest concern is Lacey's eyes. Dr. Hammans said he is hopeful she will eventually regain her vision and live a normal life.
Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation said it has been overwhelmed with people wanting to help Lacey. The organization has received donations from as far as the UK and Australia.
The response has prompted the foundation to create a medical emergency fund. Any leftover money that isn't used on Lacey will be used to help animals in the future who are neglected or abused.
You can learn more athttp://www.friendsofkernshelters.org/