Man Faces Felony Animal Cruelty Charge for Stabbing Dog

April 16, 2009 12:14:45 AM PDT
A Fresno man is facing animal cruelty charges for stabbing a beagle named "Rocky," and as the dog recovers from his injuries, family members are defending the suspect. Police say 23 year old James Mitchem was teasing the beagle with a knife and then stabbed the dog after the dog snapped at him. But family members say the police got it all wrong. It happened Tuesday night, and the vet who treated him Wednesday says Rocky's injuries could have been fatal. "Fortunately, being very lucky, he did not sustain any damage to his heart and lungs? A matter of a quarter of an inch deeper and this could have penetrated his chest cavity and he could have died within minutes potentially," said Dr. Todd Conlan at Waterhouse Animal Hospital.

Mitchem is facing animal cruelty charges for stabbing rocky but Mitchem's aunt, Peggy Gibson, says her nephew was drunk, and didn't mean to hurt the dog. Rocky belongs to a friend staying with Gibson. Gibson says police are taking the matter too far. "He bit James really good and I think this was a reaction that James had to being bit. I guess he had a pocket knife and he pulled it out and stabbed Rocky, it was unfortunate," said Peggy Gibson.

Mitchem is also charged with trying to resist arrest, something Gibson also says is wrong. "James didn't evade any kind of capture. He was coming through the front door and they came up behind him in the back and nailed him to the wall. So I had more blood to clean up. I think they're being excessive on him," said Gibson.

Whatever happened, the vet who treated Rocky say it's upsetting to see a dog suffer at the hands of a human. "I don't know all the facts of it, but just to think that someone would do this intentionally is really unconscionable," said Dr. Conlan.

Mitchem remains jailed with bail set at twenty thousand dollars. Rocky is expected to make a full recovery.

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