Updated: Friday, 05 Nov 2010, 9:43 AM CDT
Published : Thursday, 25 Mar 2010, 11:14 AM CDT
WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) - Surveillance video from a neighbor's home in north Austin is shedding new light on alleged abuse that led to a dog's death.
A neighbor of Barry Lee Sandler, 56, shared the video with KXAN Austin News that shows the 9-lb Pekingese loose in the neighborhood and being scolded by Sandler just one day before the little dog was brutalized and killed with ropes, according to police.
Sandler was arrested Tuesday on felony animal cruelty charges, which can result in 10 years in prison. He is also charged with possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest.
Sandler is now out of jail, and his attorney, Adam Reposa (who goes by the name "Bulletproof" on his Texas State Bar bio page ), says Sandler has a huge hole on his hand from a dog bite. Sandler was nice enough to take care of the dog as a favor to a friend, Reposa said - adding that he's always known Sandler to be a fine, upstanding citizen.
Police beg to differ.
"I'm sure this person has a lot of issues, but you don't take out your issues on a 9-pound dog," said Sgt. John Foster of the Williamson County Sheriff's office. "This dog was not just kicked. This dog was brutally beaten."
The video shows Sandler scolding the little dog - "Bad dog! Bad dog!" - and later shows police responding to his home and arresting him after a passer-by witnessed Sandler dragging the dog’s body along the street.
Officers say Sandler beat, kicked, stepped on and dragged the dog with ropes until it was dead. While he told police that he and the dog "didn't get along" and that the Pekingese had bitten him (inciting him to tie the dog up with three ropes), neighbors who regularly encountered the animal described it as sweet and cuddly.
"That was the sweetest little dog. You'd pick it up, and it would just cuddle up to you. It tried to get in my car with me," said Debbie Stiles. "But we didn't know anything was going on so we gave it back."
Neighbors say they would let the little dog sleep on their front porch from time to time because he repeatedly escaped from Sandler's home. He was no harm, they said. The neighbors weren't on who the dog belonged to, or what its name was.
""We took care of him for a few hours," Stiles said. "Then neighbors started knocking, going, 'Where's the dog? Where's the dog?' "
Authorities say they found Sandler with methamphetamines in his pocket when they confronted him about the dog lying dead - battered and tied up with three ropes - in his garage earlier this week.
Throughout the past several days, Sandler to police he had "accidentally" sat on and stepped on the dog, realizing it was hurt but not taking it to the vet, court documents indicate.
After tying it up, he also walked or ran with the dog dragging behind him on ropes for up to an hour, "jerking" the rope hard enough to break its neck, according to court documents.
He allegedly watched the dog bounce "one to two feet off the ground after collisions with rocks and other objects" while dragging him with the ropes.
On Tuesday, an off-duty deputy told officers she witnessed Sander dragging the dog's body as she was Rollerblading in the area.
"She observed (Sandler) bent over at the waist, pulling ropes that were tied to the dog's body with great force," according to court documents. "The defendant continued to use force even when the dog went limp."
The ropes were tied around its neck and chest, the deputy reported. Records indicate she confronted Sandler about it when it happened: "Barry, you have killed that dog. You know that is wrong."
"I know," he reportedly responded.
He later told police that he and the dog "did not get along," and that he "did not have the dog by choice."
Investigators found damage to the dog's liver - a result they said was from kicking - and bruising on its lungs from the rope. They also said its tongue had been bitten, indicating that it had struggled before it died.
When police arrived, they said they found the dog in Sandler's garage, dead and still tied up.
Sandler reportedly had a knife in his pocket, which police said he kept trying to retrieve after they repeatedly told him not to. Police also said they found a film cannister with methamphetamines inside when they searched him.
Possession of a controlled substance are typically filed as state jail felonies if the amount found is under a gram, and punishable by six months to two years in prison - but vary according to the type of drug, the amount and the case details.