An Atwater man was arrested Wednesday after witnesses reported seeing him beat a dog to death with a wooden board, authorities reported Thursday.
According to police, 19-year-old Lorenzo Segundo was seen beating the small dog with a fence board about 7:38 p.m. in the 2800 block of Muir Ave., according to Lt. Sam Joseph, spokesman for Atwater police.
Witnesses told police Segundo attacked the dog, a small brown adult Chihuahua mix, after it had walked up to his dog. He allegedly struck the dog six to seven times, and threw its body into a trash bin.
Officers found the dog's body in the trash bin.
Atwater police arrested Segundo after witnesses called police. He was booked at the Merced County Jail on suspicion of felony animal cruelty. He's since posted bail and been released.
The dog's injuries included fractures to its eye socket, skull and vertebrae. The dog also bled from its right ear canal and mouth. The dog likely died from head trauma, according to Joseph.
Segundo declined answering questions from police, they said.
Police do not believe the dog belonged to Segundo and say it may have been a stray.
Joseph said that police sometimes make arrests for illegal dog-fighting, but it's not often that officers arrest someone on suspicion of beating a dog to death.
"We take these crimes very seriously," Joseph said.
The arrest prompted some neighbors in a nearby small apartment complex to worry.
Yolanda Valdez, 28, said she didn't see anything, but one of her sons heard the dog yelp.
It's not the first incident of animal cruelty in the area. Valdez said someone fired a BB gun into her dog's left eye a couple of days before Christmas. "I feel scared," Valdez said in Spanish.
Someone hurting animals makes her worry about children in the area, Valdez said. She has three sons, and her nieces live nearby.
Apartment tenant Francisco Venegas said he was in the front yard when the dog was killed. He didn't see it because his apartment faces away from where the dog was beaten.
"I was watering the yard, and suddenly I heard that dog," the 44-year-old said. "It sounded like a cry."
Adrina Martinez, 21, said she wasn't home when the animal was beaten to death, but she heard about it from her neighbors.
"That's not right," she said.
According to Segundo's Facebook page, he attends Merced College and majors in medicine.
Reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.