TUNNELHILL - A Gallitzin man is charged with cruelty to animals for allegedly abusing his Dalmatian puppy.
State police at Ebensburg said Gary McCloskey, 22, slammed the puppy against the ground before rubbing its nose in the dirt and kicking it.
Police said a witness, who did not live in the area and did not know McCloskey, called police Monday about 1:30 p.m. to report the alleged abuse.
Trooper Scott Baran said when he investigated the incident, McCloskey's girlfriend identified herself as Ellen Whited's granddaughter.
Whited accused state police of shooting a dog without reason along Route 36 near Ashville on April 13. Whited said she was trying to get the dog into her car to look for its owner but said the trooper threatened to arrest her if she didn't leave the scene and shot the dog as she left.
State police said the trooper was forced to shoot the dog after officers found a wound on its leg and saw that its eyes were red and bloodshot, indicating brain trauma.
Police also said the dog was acting aggressive and showed the trooper its teeth.
Whited said she didn't want to comment on her granddaughter's boyfriend's charges but said her granddaughter said she believes police are targeting the Whiteds because of the April 13 incident.
"The dog is one super energetic puppy; it romps and plays," Whited said.
State police dismissed the accusations, saying when troopers responded to the call along Tunnelhill Street, they didn't know who the suspect was.
"We received a phone call from a complainant who was in the Gallitzin area, reporting that he witnessed what he felt was animal abuse. And we sent an officer up to investigate, not knowing who the defendant would end up being," said Trooper Robert Kunsman. "We had no idea that Mr. McCloskey would be related to the Whiteds."
Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.