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A 20-year-old Salt Lake City man has pleaded guilty in 3rd District Court to torturing his girlfriend's puppy, which died from its injuries in 2015.
Mikah M. Johnson pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of third-degree felony torture of a companion animal and one count of class B misdemeanor of assault, while one additional third-degree felony charge and four class B misdemeanors for animal cruelty were dismissed.
Johnson faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 4 by Judge Katie Bernards-Goodman.
In plea documents, Johnson admitted to "knowingly" slapping the puppy for 30 minutes "to cause pain," and to "knowingly" spraying Lysol in the puppy's face. He also admitted to pushing his girlfriend into a wall during an argument.
The puppy, named Moose, was about three months old when Johnson's girlfriend noticed that he kicked the animal down the stairs because Johnson "didn't think Moose was going down the stairs fast enough," according to charging documents. The puppy fell on his face at the bottom of the stairs and had a cut on his chin from hitting his face against the carpet.
Over the next month, the puppy suffered significant trauma because of Johnson, charges state. Johnson's girlfriend was told by roommates they had heard Johnson beating Moose on two occasions. The first time on July 20, 2015, "it was so loud they couldn't go to sleep," charges state. The next time was on Aug. 18, 2015, the day the puppy died.
The girlfriend noticed the puppy would act "quiet and shy" and seemed injured after being left in Johnson's care. On one occasion, Johnson told his girlfriend he had taken the puppy for a walk with another dog and attached Moose's leash to the other dog's collar, charges state. After walking a few blocks, he told her, he noticed Moose was unconscious and being dragged, and "Johnson claimed he gave Moose mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and brought him home."
"[The girlfriend] noticed that the entire inside of Moose's legs were scraped up and he had a hard time walking and standing on his back legs," charges state. The puppy also sneezed blood the entire night and was taken to a vet for treatment.
Another time, a few days before the puppy was killed, Johnson's girlfriend believed Johnson sprayed the puppy in the face with Lysol, and a vet confirmed the puppy appeared to have been sprayed with something toxic, charges state.
On the day Moose died, Johnson's girlfriend left the puppy in his care again, and her roommate woke up to the sound of Moose crying. The roommate believed she heard Johnson hit the puppy 10 to 15 times and it sounded like the puppy was being strangled, charges state.
Because Johnson "got very angry and acted mentally unstable when he beat Moose," the roommate texted Johnson's girlfriend, to tell her what was happening. When the girlfriend arrived home, the puppy was unresponsive, charges state. She took the puppy to the nearest vet, where he was declared dead.
A veterinary doctor performed a necropsy and found the puppy "died from a severe pulmonary hemorrhage," the statement says.
"At least two episodes of relatively-recent blunt force trauma occurred," a doctor told police, "and the pulmonary hemorrhage secondary to the blunt-force trauma was the cause of death."
Radiographs showed the puppy's right mandible was fractured, and that the puppy was missing teeth and had a fractured tooth, according to charges. Additionally, Moose's liver was fractured in two places and his lungs showed extensive hemorrhage and congestion, charges state. Bruising and hemorrhaging between Moose's eyes extended toward his spine, and the puppy had a corneal ulcer and conjunctivitis caused by an irritant such as Lysol.
The doctor also stated he did not believe Moose's injuries could be caused by another dog during play, the statement says.