Man accused of killing girlfriend’s dogs pleads not guilty to animal abuse charges

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A man accused of beating his then-girlfriend's three dogs to death in the couple's home last fall pleaded not guilty Monday to three counts of animal abuse.

Patrick Caleb Land, 25, was ordered held on $250,000 bail.

Deputy District Attorney Garrett Randall told Judge David Szumowski that Land called his girlfriend last Sept. 20, telling her that he had come home to find Josh, her 60-pound, 8-year-old Golden Retriever mix, dead.

No necropsy was performed on that dog, the prosecutor said.

Three weeks later, on Oct. 14, Land again called his girlfriend to tell her that he had found her dogs Jackie, a 9-year-old, 70-pound white Shepard mix, and Pikanik, a 50-pound mixed breed, dead in a bedroom.

This time, the woman ordered necropsies on the dogs and a veterinarian determined they were beaten to death, Randall said.

A motive is not known, the prosecutor said.

“They had massive internal injuries,” the prosecutor told reporters outside the courtroom. “They bled to death internally and there was evidence also that there were attempts to suffocate them and restrain them with something over their heads to prevent them from biting and vocalizing what was going on.”

Land, who had scratches on him after Jackie and Pikanik died, said they happened when he fell into a bush, according to the prosecutor.

The defendant's DNA was found under one of the dogs' nails, Randall said.

Land left San Diego days after the two dogs died and was arrested April 19 in Greensboro, N.C., the prosecutor said.

After his arrest, the defendant said he was trying to give one of the dogs eye medication about 2 p.m. when the other canine attacked him, according to the prosecutor.

Land told authorities he returned to the home around 4 p.m. and found the dogs dead on the bedroom floor, Randall told reporters.

Daniel DeSousa, a lieutenant with the county of San Diego's Department of Animal Services, called the case “appalling, disgusting and horrific.” “These dogs were healthy, happy dogs, that had their lives cruelly taken from them,” DeSousa said. “We are very grateful for the D.A.'s office in helping us track him (Land) down and hold him accountable.”

The defendant, who has three 2005 felony theft convictions from North Carolina, faces four years and four months in state prison if convicted.

Land will be back in court May 18 for a readiness conference and May 20 for a preliminary hearing.

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