A Fresno man will be arraigned Tuesday in Fresno County Superior Court for kicking and then standing on top of a relative’s small dog, killing it, law enforcement reports said.
The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office filed animal cruelty, cruelty to a dependent adult and misdemeanor battery charges against Gerald James Santema. Steve Wright, district attorney’s office spokesman, said the toy poodle, named Wiggles, also was punched before being buried in a shallow grave by Santema.
Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Santema, 38, at a home in Calwa early Friday after relatives called deputies and reported the toy poodle’s death. Santema is listed in Fresno County Jail documents as weighing 235 pounds. The website vetstreet.com says toy poodles weigh five to 10 pounds.
He kicked the dog and stood on it until it was dead. It was just awful.
Brenda Mitchell, Fresno Humane Animal Services president
Fresno Humane Animal Services, Fresno County’s animal control service, took possession of the dog’s body, which was sent out for a necropsy – an animal autopsy – to determine the dog’s injuries and cause of death.
Brenda Mitchell, president of Fresno Humane, said family members witnessed the dog’s beating and reported it to the sheriff’s office.
“He kicked the dog and stood on it until it was dead,” Mitchell said. “It was just awful.”
Mitchell said the family was watching the poodle for neighbors, who found it as a stray. They were away from home.
When animal control arrived about 6 a.m. Friday, Santema had already buried the dog in a shallow grave, Mitchell said.
While investigating the dog’s death, deputies learned that Santema assaulted family members over Memorial Day weekend in the same home. He had become upset with two relatives and began yelling at them, punching a man and then a woman when she made an effort to call law enforcement.
Santema is on probation and a has a history of drug use, the sheriff’s office reported.
Santema remains in Fresno County Jail. His bail is set at $34,500.