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Fire official arraigned in puppy beating

January 13, 2009 9:23:11 AM PST
An L.A. County assistant fire chief accused of beating a puppy to death in Riverside pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday.Glynn Johnson is facing an animal cruelty charge.

Johnson claims he was acting in self defense when his neighbor's dog attacked him on Nov. 3.

The shepherd mix, Karley, had gotten loose from her owner's property in the 17000 block of Armintrout Drive in Woodcrest on the day of the incident and was picked up by a neighbor, who was taking the dog back home when Johnson apparently intercepted him and offered to return the animal himself, according to authorities.

The neighbor, Travis Skaggs, handed Karley over and watched as Johnson walked her toward her owners' house. Skaggs told sheriff's investigators that, seemingly without provocation, Johnson turned and struck the dog "with his closed fist, 10 to 15 times."

During a news conference at his lawyer's Beverly Hills office last month, Johnson told reporters he would "never harm a dog that posed no danger to me."

He said while he was carrying the puppy home, it lashed out, biting down on his right thumb in a "vice-like grip" that required the fireman to defend himself.

Johnson has been placed on administrative leave from the fire department and is free on $10,000 bail.

City News Service contributed to this story.