A U.S. Navy veteran, charged with kidnapping and torturing his neighbors’ dogs, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Friday.
David Herbert, an Oceanside resident on Carino Way, faces five charges of animal abuse, four charges of vandalism, two charges of petty theft and one charge each of residential burglary and using a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony, according to Oceanside Police.
A months-long investigation linked Herbert to six reported criminal cases at the same residence with two separate families over the course of six months.
The first case occurred in April when a family reported their two Huskies assaulted, police said.
The dogs were described as poisoned and doused with acid while outdoors. Later the suspect allegedly broke into the house and plucked out the eye of one of the Huskies, according to the owner.
The family moved out soon afterward, but the abuse continued with the new residents.
On May 30, police said the new neighbors reported both their dogs missing from their home within the first 48 hours.
One of the dogs was found by a neighbor, but the other, Lala, never came home.
"We had just moved in that house, we were there less than 48 hours, and he just turned our world upside down," said Michelle Plaketta, owner of the missing dog.
Police video surveillance determined Lala was taken in Herbert’s car.
A police investigation found evidence of Lala’s saliva and blood in Herbert’s car. She is believed to have been the victim of a violent assault, according to authorities.
Police said the abused dogs are recovering with the exception of Lala whose whereabouts are still unknown.
Herbert owned no animals of his own and had none in his residence.
If convicted of the felony charges, Herbert could face up to 16 years in prison.