Man faces jail after dog-beating plea

A Grand Junction man who repeatedly beat and seriously injured a dog last summer faces up to 30 days in Mesa County Jail after pleading guilty to aggravated cruelty to animals.

Michael T. Hupke, 23, agreed to attend court-ordered, anger-management classes under terms of a plea agreement formalized last week with the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, according to court records.

Hupke’s case was one of two cruelty cases from 2010 in which Mesa County Animals Services investigators sought to prosecute a defendant under Colorado’s misdemeanor cruelty statute. The cases usually are prosecuted as lesser violations of municipal code, and roughly 30 of them were pursued last year, according to County Animal Services Director Penny McCarty.

“Generally, the state prosecutions are reserved for very serious neglect and abuse cases,” McCarty said.

Officers were called to Hupke’s home May 16, 2010, after a neighbor heard yelping and observed Hupke repeatedly beating his dog with a “large board-like object,” according to an affidavit and witness statements.

Hupke told officers he was hitting the dog with his hand because it had been digging in his backyard.

The 1-year-old pit bull, Zeus, had suffered fractured bones in its face. A veterinarian said the force of the blows were comparable to injuries that the veterinarian had observed in dogs struck by cars, the affidavit said.

McCarty said Zeus was turned over by Mesa County Animal Services to a rescue organization June 9 for adoption.

Hupke will be sentenced Feb. 9.


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