"[The puppy] suddenly turned on me, and severely bit me several times on my hands, my arms and legs," said defendant Glynn Johnson.
The prosecutors say it's a clear case of felony animal cruelty. Johnson is accused of punching the 6-month-old German shepherd mix "Karley" at least 10 times in the head with a closed fist, then hitting Karley several more times on the head with a rock in the Riverside neighborhood where he lives.
Johnson has been with the L.A. County Fire Department for 31 years.
"I have personally rescued many dogs from peril as a firefighter, and would never, ever harm a dog that posed no danger to me," said Johnson.
Karley's owners say the attack was unprovoked, and that Karley was not an aggressive dog.
"Just indescribable," said Branson Toole, Karley's owner. "It was just sick, horrific to look at."
The case has received national attention, and Monday animal rights activists spoke out.
"For a man over 200 pounds to take a little 6-month-old puppy and do what he did to this dog, this man is dangerous to society," said Chris DeRose, founder of Last Chance For Animals.
Monday Johnson's lawyer said his client is an honorable man and that the picture that has been painted of Johnson is not true.
"He is not a puppy-killer, he is not a dog-killer," said John E. Sweeney, Johnson's attorney. "He has dedicated himself for 31 years as a firefighter with Los Angeles County to saving lives."
Johnson faces up to four years in prison if convicted. He's scheduled to be arraigned in Riverside on January 13, 2009.
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