The first defendant prosecuted by the Fresno County district attorney’s new Animal Cruelty Unit has pleaded no contest to fracturing the skull of his dog Princess.
Tyrell Leon Harris, 32, entered his plea Monday in Superior Court to a charge of animal cruelty, prosecutor Sydney Ricks said.
Harris faces up to 32 months behind bars when he is sentenced on Feb. 1, Ricks said.
In July, District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp announced the formation of the unit, saying animal cruelty can be a precursor to crimes against people.
According to the United States Humane Society, research shows that between 71 percent and 83 percent of women in domestic violence shelters report that their partners have abused or killed the family pet. In families under supervision for child abuse, 88 percent had also committed acts of animal abuse.
In seven school shootings between 1997 and 2001, all of the shooters had committed acts of animal cruelty, the research showed.
In forming the unit, Smittcamp picked Ricks to work with local law enforcement, including officers with the Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which investigated 1,200 acts of animal cruelty and neglect last year.
A criminal complaint accused Harris of beating his dog in his central Fresno garage on June 26. When a humane investigator arrived at the home, Harris was covered in blood and the dog, a female pit bull, was badly injured next to a pool of blood, the CCSPCA said.
The dog was rushed to Veterinary Emergency Services, where it was determined she had a frontal skull fracture. Princess was taken to the CCSPCA Small Animal Hospital for treatment.
Between 71 percent and 83 percent of women in domestic violence shelters report that their partners have abused or killed the family pet, the United States Humane Society says.
Tuesday, the CCSPCA reported that Princess has recovered from her injuries. “She’s doing amazing,” said spokesman Walter Salvari. The CCSPCA posted a video on YouTube showing the dog’s progress.
The CCSPCA, however, needs help in recovering the cost of Princess’ medical bills, which total $13,000, Salvari said. Anyone wishing to donate can call the CCSPCA at (559) 233-7722 or go to nonprofit’s website ccspca.com/support-the-ccspca/donate.
Court records say Harris has a prior conviction for robbery in 2001. He will remain in the Fresno County Jail until he is sentenced.