TAMPA, Fla. (WBBH/NBC) – A Florida man is now facing animal cruelty charges after deputies say he allegedly injured his family dog.
According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, 28-year-old Jose Hernandez-Rivera is being charged with torturing, inflicting pain, serious injury, or death to an animal.
Our NBC affiliate, WBBH, spoke with Hernandez-Rivera’s mother who is heartbroken, as well as people who live in his neighborhood who are now scared of what he is capable of doing.
“He is my son and that was my dog, my youngest dog, my baby,” Herminia Hernandez said. “I am traumatized.”
Her son is accused of beating her 2-year-old chihuahua terrier mix, named Canela, with a broomstick.
“I screamed at him don’t hit the dog, you are going to break her and he didn’t hear me and didn’t listen,” Hernandez said.
She told WBBH her son stated, “it’s just a dog” and continued to beat Canela, fracturing her leg.
“Imagine what he can do to a person if he did that to a dog,” a neighbor said.
“It’s unacceptable. People that abuse animals further abuse humans worse,” said Sheriff Carmine Marceno. “His statement was ‘it’s only a dog’… well guess what my statement is ‘its only bars, enjoy being behind them.’”
Hernandez-Rivera’s mother said her son has struggled with drugs for a long time.
“My son (recently) got out of Lee Memorial Hospital after he overdosed. He came disoriented to the house. He wasn’t himself,” she said.
Now, she says she feels like she is losing her son.
“I just wish for help for my son so that he gets rehabilitated because the drugs are finishing with him,” she said.
Unfortunately, Hernandez said she may never see Canela again.
“I had to give her up, they had to take her because I can’t afford the vet bills and I couldn’t see her broken like that,” she said.
Sheriff Marceno says deputies will make sure Canela will go to a home where she is safe and loved.