Multiple felony animal abuse charges have been filed against a man accused of killing his girlfriend’s three dogs, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Patrick Caleb Land, 25, pleaded not guilty Monday to three counts of felony animal cruelty for allegedly killing Jackie, a nine-year old white Shepard mix; Pikanik, a four-year old black and tan mixed breed; and Josh, a Great Pyrenees and Golden Retriever mix.
The defendant is accused of beating one the dogs to death in September and two more dogs in October. In both cases, investigators say he called his girlfriend at work and told her he found the dogs dead in a bedroom.
Two of the dogs died from severe trauma and "appear to have been brutally beaten while being restrained with something over their heads to keep them quiet and unable to bite defensively," according to the veterinarian who performed necropsies on the dogs.
The younger dog suffered the most severe injuries, according to investigators. They say it suggests he struggled more and was harder to silence.
Land allegedly told investigators that he was trying to put eye medication in Jackie's eyes when the dog snapped at him. He said he kicked the dog a few times.
He also said he kicked Pikanik a few times when the dog tried to attack him.
Investigators say Land had long scratches on his arms the day the dogs died and he explained them by saying he'd fallen into the bushes.
San Diego County Animal Services investigated the deaths after the owner became suspicious.
"Our investigators did an outstanding job in this difficult case," said Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson. "DNA found underneath one of the dog's nails gave us evidence that the defendant committed these crimes."
Land was arrested in North Carolina and extradited to San Diego.
"This is a particularly brutal and disturbing case of animal cruelty," District Attorney Dumanis said. "Our office's prosecution of animal cruelty cases like this one should send a strong message that we will not tolerate animal abuse in our community."
Land faces up to four years and four months in prison if convicted. He’s being held on $250,000 bail.