A man accused of beating and then fatally shooting his family’s pet German shepherd inside their Sloan home has been arrested on multiple charges, Cheektowaga police reported.
Town police were alerted early Sunday that a man had shot a dog in a home on Broadway. Officers Thomas D. Labelle and Matthew J. Arnold found the dead dog, named Max, on the basement floor, according to Capt. James J. Speyer Jr.
Michael J. Tortorici, 58, told the officers that he shot the dog because it had attacked him and that he didn’t want anyone else to be attacked, Speyer said. But the officers noticed that the 8-year-old dog had been beaten, and they investigated further.
It was determined that earlier that morning, the dog was asleep in one of the bedrooms. Tortorici began yelling at the dog for sleeping in the room and became aggressive, punching, kicking and pulling the dog by the head, according to Speyer.
After the dog bit Tortorici on the wrist and then released him, Tortorici beat it with a wooden bar stool, police said.
A 12-year-old boy who was in the home took the dog outside to a fenced yard. Police said Tortorici went out and again started beating the dog, this time with a two-by-four.
Tortorici then took Max into the basement of the home and shot the dog in the stomach with a 12-gauge shotgun.
“The guy was drunk; I’m sure alcohol played a … factor in it,” Speyer said.
Animal-control officer Scott Thrun took custody of the dead dog until it was turned over to the SPCA Serving Erie County; Jeffrey Eyre, a special agent in charge of investigations for the SPCA, joined the probe.
Tortorici was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, endangering the welfare of a child and discharging a firearm, Speyer said.
A necropsy determined that the dog had suffered multiple fractures – including a broken eye socket – from being beaten on the head, the police captain said. It also was determined that the gunshot wound wasn’t immediately fatal and that the dog had suffered considerably before it died.
Following arraignment before Town Justice Paul S. Piotrowski, Tortorici was sent to the Erie County Holding Center, where he was later released on $25,000 bail.