Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
December 16, 2010
Susan Kang Schroeder
PAROLEE SENTENCED FOR KICKING AND SLAPPING PUPPY AFTER SWINGING IT BY THE NECK USING LEASH AS A LASSO
SANTA ANA – A parolee was convicted today of abusing an 8-pound puppy by using a leash as a lasso to swing it by the neck during an argument with his girlfriend in a Walmart parking lot. Verne Joseph Strong, 57, Newport Beach, pleaded guilty to a court offer to one misdemeanor count of animal abuse by a caretaker.
Over the objection of the People, the Court reduced the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, therefore eliminating the sentencing enhancement for a prior prison conviction for second degree commercial burglary, for which he is on parole. Based on the defendant’s criminal record, the People advocated for a state prison sentence. Strong was sentenced over the objection of the People to 317 days in jail, for which he received 317 days credit for time served. He was also sentenced to three years of informal probation and ordered to pay restitution to the animal shelter for the care of the puppy.
Strong’s girlfriend, Angel Marie Holmes, 37, Newport Beach, is charged with one felony count of accessory after the fact and faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison. She failed to appear for her arraignment and there is a $25,000 warrant for her arrest.
At approximately 6:45 p.m. on July 11, 2010, Strong got into a verbal argument with his girlfriend, Holmes, in a Walmart parking lot in Westminster. During the argument, he opened the trunk of his Chevrolet sedan and pulled out an 8-month-old chihuahua-dachshund mix puppy, which had been locked inside.
Strong swung the 8-pound dog by the neck several feet off the ground using the leash in a lasso motion before throwing him to the ground. He then kicked the dog with force that caused the puppy to slide across the asphalt under the car. Strong retrieved the dog and got into the car with Holmes. Witnesses in the parking lot called 911. Westminster Police Officers arrived to find Strong and Holmes still parked in the Walmart parking lot, sleeping in their car.
As an officer approached the car window to make contact with the defendant, the puppy began to bark from inside the car. Strong slapped the dog in the head with a full swing of his arm, knocking the dog over and rendering him temporarily stunned and motionless as the officer watched from the other side of the window. Strong slapped the dog a second time before getting out of the car to speak with the officer.
Strong was arrested at the scene. When interviewed at the scene by officers, Holmes is accused helping Strong avoid prosecution by denying that Strong had swung or kicked the puppy and lying about the crime.
The puppy, Meanie, was taken to the humane society in Westminster for evaluation and treatment. Meanie is still in the care of the shelter pending resolution of the criminal case and has recovered.