David Etzel, 37, faces a year or more in jail after jurors found him guilty of animal cruelty Tuesday.
His crime was one usually not heard of outside intro to journalism classes: He bit a dog.
All of this happened in — where else? — Florida.
According to the Palm Beach Post, 6-foot-8, 375-pound Etzel was convicted Tuesday of biting and squeezing his mother’s tiny Shih Tzu so hard that one of the dog’s eyes popped out.
According to prosecutors, the Lake Worth, Fla., man was teasing the dog while drinking, prompting the dog, Cujo, to bite him. Etzel, who his mother said suffers from alcoholism and anger management problems, bit back, then squeezed the animal.
Veterinarians who treated Cujo said they usually only saw injuries so severe in cases where dogs had been hit by cars or attacked by other dogs, according to the Palm Beach Post. They were able to restore Cujo’s eye to its socket, but the dog will be permanently blind in that eye.
The jury took less than half an hour to find Etzel guilty.
“I’m happy he was held accountable for what he did to my dog,” said Etzel’s mother, Michele, after the verdict. Later, she added: “My son needs alcohol treatment, and he needs anger management treatment.”
Michele Etzel still owns Cujo, according to the Post.
The headline “man bites dog” is a classic journalism aphorism about difference between an everyday event (“dog bites man”) and news (one such story made The Washington Post’s front page in 1950.) But it crops up with disturbing frequency.
In January, an Oregon man bit both of his dog’s ears “to assert dominance” (“Man bites dog, jailed in Beaverton“). Last December, police in the U.K. were searching for a man spotted sinking his teeth into a whimpering Staffordshire Bull Terrier (“Man bites dog: Officers say a man was spotted ‘punching, hitting and biting’ the whimpering animal in Gloucester city center“). And then there’s this bizarre story from Cambridge, England: “‘Drug-crazed’ man dies after biting dog during row with owner outside One Stop shop.”
Perhaps “man bites dog” isn’t as newsy as reporters think.