A Fresno man who was accused of abandoning an emaciated, mite-infested American pit bull named Enzo at a vacant house last year has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of failing to care for an animal.
The attorney for Carlos Xavier Marron said Friday his client is getting a bad rap from the Fresno Bully Rescue, a no-kill shelter that rescued Enzo and is caring for the animal.
"He loves that dog," Fresno attorney Christopher Caine said. "He never abandoned it. That's why the case resolved with a single misdemeanor."
Enzo was discovered alone and crying July 22 in the backyard of a vacant home near Clinton and Brawley avenues. When Enzo was rescued, the dog weighed 44 pounds -- signicantly underweight for a pit bull, said Gina Cruz, who rescued him.
Marron, 30, later surrendered to police at the northwest substation.
Initially, police sought felony animal cruelty charges against Marron. But after reviewing the evidence, prosecutors charged Marron with three misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and failure to care for an animal.
Tuesday, he pleaded no contest to failing to care for an animal. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dismissed the two misdemeanor charges and Judge Adolfo Corona sentenced Marron to three years of probation and 10 days in jail -- a punishment he can do in the adult offender work program. Corona also said Marron could own dogs as long as he cared for them.
Marron didn't show up for Tuesday's court hearing; he waived his right to attend. Caine said once the case was resolved, he was ready to tell Marron's side of the incident.
Marron was in the process of moving on July 22 and had left food and water for Enzo, whose real name is Cain.
"It's all a misunderstanding," Caine said. "He left in the morning, but when he returned in the afternoon, the dog was illegally taken."
If the case had gone to trial, Caine said the evidence would have shown that Marron had purchased the dog as a puppy and paid thousands of dollars to a vet to save Enzo after he was run over by a car.
The dog also has a serious skin condition, Caine said. Before the Fresno Bully Rescue took the dog, Marron had been treating the skin disorder with medication, he said. "This dog was never abandoned. It was never mistreated," the lawyer said.
Caine said Marron plans to take legal action to get his dog back: "He loves that dog and he wants it back. He is the legal owner."
Friday, Enzo's supporters at the Fresno Bully Rescue weren't pleased with the news.
"He will never get Enzo back," Cruz said. "Enzo was starving and could have died. It's unfortunate that someone can get away with doing such terrible things to a living creature."
Enzo, who is now nearly 6 years old, currently weighs 68 pounds and still has a heart murmur caused by malnutrition, Cruz said. He also has a serious skin infection from being exposed too long to the sun and mange -- a painful, itchy skin rash caused by mites, she said.
"Enzo is still missing some fur, but it is steadily growing back," Cruz said. "It's going to be some time before he fully recovers."
Enzo is among 42 dogs at the Fresno Bully Rescue. Anyone wishing to help can call (559) 276-7611 or go to www.fresnobullyrescue.org.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6434, email@example.com or @beecourts on Twitter.