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Man facing animal cruelty charge after video of dog being punched goes viral

Man facing animal cruelty charge after video of dog being punched goes viral
Posted at 4:38 PM, Oct 06, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Officials say a man is in custody after a viral video appears to show him punching a dog multiple times.

Jon Wilcox, 25, is facing one count of cruelty to an animal.

It's a misdemeanor offense punishable by 93 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, up to 200 hours of community service, or any combination of the three.

The dog was removed from the home and is now being cared for by Kent County Animal Control.

In the video, a man, which police say is Wilcox, is seen yelling and motioning for a Golden Retriever to come over to him. The person then repeatedly hits the dog before carrying it off.

Kent County Animal Control says the incident happened October 1 outside of a business along Elizabeth Ave NW.

According to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office, it’s the sixth cruelty to animal charge this year, which is up from three in 2020.

Andy Seltz, who worked at Kent County Animal Control for two years and now leads cruelty and neglect investigations throughout Detroit, says people shouldn’t be alarmed by the increased numbers.

“I don’t think it’s an uptick because more people are getting animals,” said Seltz, vice president of field services at Michigan Humane. “It’s an uptick because we had a lull for a while and now things are getting back to normal as far as people being out and about and reporting these types of incidents.”

Signs of mistreatment can include pets flinching or cowering when the abuser(s) is in the room or suddenly moves, a change of behavior when not around an abuser(s), and a lack of basic needs like food, water, shelter.

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“For the animal itself, it’s horrible,” said Seltz. “Similar to our human relationships, it’s going to be the same thing with your animal. They don’t trust you, so it’s never going to be a good relationship within that home.”

If someone sees or suspects wrongdoing, Seltz encourages people to report it to local animal control or police.

Michigan Humane also serves much of the state and can be used as a resource in starting the process.

“Those animals rely on you for a good quality of life and if we’re not providing that and we’re breaking that bond, something’s wrong,” said Seltz. “We gotta come forward, we gotta address that. It’s the right thing to do.”

At this point, the dog in this case is not available for adoption. The condition of the dog is not known at this time.

To report animal abuse or neglect in Kent County, call 616-632-7300 or call 911 for emergencies.

In Ottawa County, complaints can be called into 800-249-0911.

For people living in Kalamazoo County, reports can be made at 269-383-8775 or submitted online by clicking here.

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