Police: Man beat dog with 2X4, shot it

SLOAN, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Sloan man is accused of brutally beating his German Shepherd and then shooting him. The pet dog was found in the basement of the man’s home on Broadway around 1 a.m. on Sunday.

Cheektowaga Police say 58-year-old Michael Tortorici claimed he shot the dog because he was attacked. The officers found the dog had been beaten so continued investigating.

WARNING | The details of this story are disturbing

Police say what happened is Tortorici began yelling at the dog, “Max,” when Max was found asleep in one of the bedrooms of the home. Police say Tortorici punched, kicked and pulled the dog by the head, and the dog bit Tortorici on the wrist. Tortorici then allegedly beat the dog with a wooden barstool.

Police report a 12-year-old child took the dog outside in the yard where Tortorici then allegedly beat the dog with a 2X4. He then is accused of bringing the dog inside to the basement, where he allegedly shot the dog in the stomach with a shotgun. Officials say the gunshot wound was not immediately fatal and that the dog suffered before he died.

Cheektowaga Police Capt. Jim Speyer said, “He overreacted. Way overreacted. And he ended up basically torturing that dog for awhile before that dog actually died.”

Tortorici was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, endangering the welfare of a child and discharging of a firearm. But his attorney, Frank LoTempio III says there is a lot more to this story. He says Max has a history of being aggressive and attacking his owner.

“He’s a dog-lover; he didn’t report it,” LoTempio said. “He thought he could take care of the dog; he thought it was just, hopefully, some temperamental issues.”

LoTempio says his client was viciously attacked and that Tortorici had to go to the hospital. The attorney says his client bled all over the house from the wounds Max inflicted.

But Capt. Speyer says if anyone feels a dog is a danger, the prudent thing to do is to call 911.

“The police would have responded, called in an animal control officer and removed the pet from the home,” Capt. Speyer said. “This dog actually suffered immensely before it died. There’s no excuse for what he did.”

Tortorici was sent to the Erie County Holding Center where bail was set at $25,000. He has since been released after posting bail.

LoTempio says he believes his client will be cleared after all the facts in the case come out.

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