On Thursday, the owner of an Australian shepherd puppy was sentenced to prison for five years after beating his dog to death during an all day drinking binge on St. Patrick’s Day last year. Thyren Clent Justus, 36, pleaded guilty to felony animal cruelty, but states he doesn’t remember breaking the puppy’s leg and stomping on him until its lung collapsed.
According to the Dallas News, a neighbor heard loud banging and stomping noises while a dog cried and barked near the Wheeler Street apartments. When authorities arrived at Justus’ apartment, they followed a trail of dog feces and came upon Justus who had been crying telling them his small five-month-old black and white puppy named Luke was dead. The puppy was found slumped in front of the toilet, bleeding from its mouth with an obvious broken back leg. Police stated the dog’s head had been crushed and his teeth were broken along with other serious injuries. When asked what happened, Justus originally told police the dog, he had owned for the last six months, had defecated in his kennel and he had punished the dog by “popping it on the nose” and shaking it. He then told police he accidentally fell over the 20-pound pup killing it.
When questioned the next morning, Justus said he couldn’t remember beating the puppy; telling police he had been drinking everything from “beer to jello shots to vodka – I couldn’t tell you,” he said. He only remembered flashes of his dog and the officers arresting him.
Prosecutor Felicia Kerney argued that Justus should have been given the maximum ten-year sentence, while the defendant’s attorney argued his client should receive probation because he’s a recovering alcoholic. Since the death of the Luke, Justus began drinking again and was arrested on a driving while drunk charge. Ms. Kerney argued stating alcoholism doesn’t make people brutally beat and kill their pets, and just because he came home and the untrained puppy had defecated on the floor was no excuse for the cruelty. Justus claims he now attends regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Rest in peace Luke. At least you received a little justice, but nothing can bring back the life you deserved to live.
(Photo of Justus sentenced to prison – booking photo via Dallas News)
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