Man found not guilty in beating, shooting of dog

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – An Erie County Court jury has found a Sloan man not guilty of felony aggravated animal cruelty.

Cheektowaga Police say 58-year-old Michael Tortorici began yelling at his German Shepard “Max” when the dog 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.

After a 12-year-old boy took Max outside, police say Tortorici followed, beating Max with a two-by-four. Police say Tortorici then brought the dog into the basement, where he shot it in the stomach with a 12-gauge shotgun. Officials say the gunshot wound was not immediately fatal and that the dog suffered before he died.

“We’re just very upset that justice was not served and another animal has gone voiceless at this point,” said Robin Donovan of Compassionate Citizens of Western New York.

Tortorici’s attorney argued his client his client acted in self defense, after the dog became aggressive and attacked him.

Frank LoTempio said, “It’s awful for him. He feels horrible; he can’t believe that his reputation is being maligned like this, especially in relation to how he feels about dogs and animals. It’s tough for him, it’s really tough.”

“What actually happened that night was Michael was attacked by his dog and unfortunately the dog has prior bites and it was just relentless that night and Michael had to do something he didn’t want to do.”

The jury began deliberating on Friday and returned a not guilty verdict on Monday. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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