Indy the dog case: Man pleads no contest to felony animal cruelty

Thursday, September 25, 2014
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The man accused of burning a pit bull with fireworks and then leaving him for dead pleaded no contest to animal cruelty Wednesday.

VAN NUYS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The man accused of burning a pit bull with fireworks and then leaving him for dead last Fourth of July pleaded no contest to a felony animal cruelty charge in court Wednesday.

With time served, Carlos Duarte will spend about six months in jail. He'll also have to undergo psychological therapy and won't be allowed to have a dog or a cat for 10 years.

"I probably won't get to a point where I'll ever think anything would have been enough, so in all fairness, something happening is effectively enough at this point," said Jenny Mandel, Indy the dog's new owner.

Indy's journey back was a long one. He spent six months of rehabilitation in the animal hospital. But Howard Epstein, an animal activist, said he now has a happy home.

"I'm feeling amazing. I think it's a big accomplishment, I think we have a long way to go, but it's a start, and I'm just so happy for Jenny. She's an amazing mom, and we rallied together and we did it," said Epstein.

Epstein started a social media campaign called Go Green for Indy, which has generated supporters from around the world.

"He was 75 percent burned over his body, and still, his spirit could not be broken," said Rene Ruston, co-founder of Start, which helped collect money for Indy's care and ultimately found his new owner.

The judge acknowledged letters from the community when handing down the sentence. Duarte, who is in the country illegally, will also have to take animal care classes and could face deportation.

"This should have never happened. We're just glad that there was some consequences and we're sending a message that there are consequences. Definitely glad there was some jail time," said animal activist Lauren Lewis.