A Cape Coral man who dragged two injured puppies along a roadway was sentenced to jail.
Pedro Emmanuel Moreta, 52, of 4322 Palm Tree Blvd., pleaded no contest to one count of cruelty to animals, a third-degree felony. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to 364 days at the Lee County Jail under a plea agreement, followed by 48 months of probation and additional conditions ordered by the court.
"This was the maximum penalty based on his criminal history," Samantha Syoen, spokeswoman with the State Attorney's Office, said.
Pedro Emmanuel Moreta
Conditions of his probation include a $2,500 fine and court costs, $1,405.17 to be paid to the Lee County Domestic Animal Services for investigation costs, 150 community service hours, substance abuse and mental health evaluations, random drug screenings and anger management counseling.
Moreta also can have no contact with domesticated animals.
Assistant state attorney Noelle Cella handled the case.
"I am very happy with the resolution in this case. We were able to get the maximum penalty this individual could face," she said.
"I am also glad the puppies were able to recover and be adopted into good homes," Cella said.
Assistant public defender Leon Walsh Jr. represented Moreta.
Walsh did not return a message seeking comment on the case Tuesday.
On March 31, Cape police received a call about a man dragging and kicking two dogs as he walked along the 1200 block of Cape Coral Parkway. The caller believed that one of the animals was dead.
Officers responded and found two puppies, weighing about 5 pounds each, on a single leash with Moreta. The animals cowered under Moreta as he spoke to police and were shaking and crying.
Moreta told the officers that the animals were approximately 8 weeks old.
He reportedly said the dogs did not want to walk so he was dragging them along.
One puppy had her front and back paw pads torn apart, injuries to the front of her rear legs, severe scrapes or possible chemical burns on her rear legs, and had sustained scraps and cuts to her stomach.
The other puppy, which was a male, was shaking and had difficulty standing.
Lee County Domestic Animal Services responded. Officers determined that the injuries sustained by the puppies constituted abuse, and that they were severe enough to be considered life-threatening.
Authorities took custody of the animals, which were treated and later put up for adoption.
Moreta was taken into custody and booked at the county jail.