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Man Who Beat Stray Dog With Shovel Sentenced To 5 Years In Prison

RIVERSIDE ( — A man who beat a neighborhood dog to death with a shovel has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Dog Assault Suspect
(credit: Riverside County Sheriff's Dept.)

Efrem Rodriguez Martinez, 55, was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to beating the dog and admitting to using a shovel as a weapon, according to John Welsh, spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Animal Services. Due to a prior strike, the sentencing resulted in the five-year term, Welsh said.

The 3-year-old terrier mix, known in the Whitewater neighborhood as Rusty, had been a stray dog that several residents fed, gave water and occasionally took in. On June 8, 2015, a neighbor told an animal services officer he had seen Martinez "swing the shovel and hit the dog one last time before scooping the dog upon the shovel and tossing it over his back fence into the desert."

An animal services officer rushed Rusty to an emergency hospital for pets, but he died two days later.

3-year-old terrier beaten with shovel
(credit: Riverside County Dept. of Animal Services)

"The prosecutor took the severity of this dog beating very seriously," Riverside County Animal Services Commander Chris Mayer said in a statement. "Prison terms are not common for a majority of our animal cruelty cases, so we find it extremely satisfying to learn that Mr. Martinez received this level of punishment."

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