Man pleads guilty to abusing stolen puppy

By By Johnathan Manning

A Lake Charles man was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to abusing a dog he had stolen.

Tyler Scott Sanders, 21, pleaded guilty

as charged to aggravated cruelty to animals and theft of animals over

$500. Judge

Clayton Davis sentenced him to 10 years, with five years

suspended. Davis also sentenced him to a $5,000 fine and five years’

probation. Sanders will have to serve at least 85 percent of his

sentence.

Sanders reportedly stole Halo, a pit bull puppy, from the backyard of a residence on Arkansas Street on Aug. 16 and abused

the animal during the time it was in his possession — until Nov. 21, when a mail carrier found the animal.

“I think it’s a fair resolution because

it holds the defendant accountable, there’s a significant punishment

factor and there’s

significant time over his head where he’ll be monitored,”

prosecutor Christy Rhoades May said. “It sends a clear message to

the community that the DA’s office takes these crimes very

seriously and the judges at the 14th JDC take them seriously as

well.”

The dog suffered permanent damage to its sight and mobility, May said, and will eventually need to have its right front leg

amputated.

The dog is doing “really well,” said Renee Smith, of Lake Charles Pit Bull Rescue, although he has begun taking nerve pills

in preparation for the amputation.

“I am pleased with the outcome because I think it makes a statement that people can’t get away with animal cruelty,” Smith

said.

She said she plans for the dog, which is now in her care, to become a therapy dog.

After the dog was stolen, Halo’s original owners posted “missing” signs, even giving one to Sanders, who threw it away, “proving

he knew who the rightful owners were and chose not to give the animal back,” May said while telling Davis the facts of the

case.

Witnesses said Sanders repeatedly

abused the animal and shot it three times in the head with a pellet gun,

May said. Three

pellets remain in the dog’s head, she said. The dog had broken

bones and showed signs of blunt-force trauma to its face and

head.

When he is released from prison, Sanders must pay full restitution for all Halo’s medical bills, have no contact with dogs,

have no contact with witnesses and perform community service.

The court also dealt with charges Sanders accumulated in four other incidents. Sanders pleaded guilty to DWI and marijuana

possession, although prosecutors dropped charges from the other two dockets — reckless operation and unlawful purchase or

public possession of alcohol.

Sanders received the DWI after he was found to have a 0.10 blood-alcohol level on March 3, 2012, May said. He was stopped

by state police after he was seen accelerating and spinning out of control, she said.

On Jan. 28, 2012, he was arrested for marijuana possession at the mall, May said. Lake Charles police found the marijuana

as they searched him for shoplifting a lighter.

After May read the facts on all Sanders’ charges, Davis asked him if he admitted to them.

“Yes, sir,” he replied.

Defense attorney Ralph Williams said he did not wish to comment.