A man turned himself in to Council Bluffs police yesterday (Wednesday) after learning there was a warrant for his arrest for animal cruelty. Chief Animal Control Officer Gaylen Barrett says it became his case one day last week, when police were called to a home where a woman says her boyfriend was playing with her pit bull and it turned into a brawl. A domestic altercation occurred, the officer says, and the man left the home. The woman left too, “because she didn’t feel safe there,” but when she came home she found the man had been there again, “to finish what he had initially started.” The boyfriend had told the woman he was going to kill the dog. The dog was badly hurt, unable to walk and bleeding.

The woman told police about her boyfriend’s threat and after the animal was brought in and examined, Barret says he could tell something was badly wrong. Its injuries were so bad, the animal shelter had it euthanized. He enlisted the services of a veterinarian who did some x-rays and confirmed the dog had suffered multiple broken bones, including its skull, jaw and front legs.

Police issued a warrant for the man. Barrett says that was done at his request, once he’d confirmed the animal’s injuries were due to blunt-force trauma and it was definitely a case of animal cruelty. He says he was concerned about the assault upon the animal. In his field, they’re trained to understand that just as marijuana can be a “gateway” to the use of stronger illegal drugs, abuse of an animal is often the step that precedes abuse of humans. The next step is a child, or an adult, Barrett says. “If you speak with murderers,” he says,”as kids, or as adults even, they started with the animals.”

The suspect could face up to two years in prison or a five-thousand dollar fine if he’s convicted, and Barret says he hopes he gets that maximum, but especially hopes the man gets counseling.