Owner confronted about extreme case of dog abuse

Owner confronted about extreme case of dog abuse
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- A 6-pound mixed-terrier named Lacey is lucky to be alive after being abused.

According to Matt Constantine, director of Kern County Public Health, investigators determined that Lacey had been tethered with a short leash to a tree, struck in the mouth with a golf club, had her eyes sprayed with bleach and left there untreated for four days.

"Unfortunately, we do see a number of animal abuse cases that come across our desks every year," said Constantine. "This is one of the more severe ones."

Lacey's owner, 43-year-old Robert Gonzales, is accused in the alleged abuse and was arrested for three other unrelated charges last Saturday.

Eyewitness News went to Gonzales' home Saturday afternoon to get his side of the story, but he wasn't there. Eyewitness News went back later that night, when again there was no answer at the door, but a black pickup truck pulled into the driveway.

The man inside the truck said he wasn't Gonzales and then drove off, but Eyewitness News was able to confirm that he was, in fact, Gonzales.

Eyewitness News waited until Gonzales came back, and when asked for a comment, Gonzales said, "My lawyer's going to come talk to you guys. I got nothing to say."

When asked for a comment about the dog, Gonzales said, "We'll talk in court."

Gonzales is scheduled to be in court on Dec. 29.

As for Lacey, on Friday she had surgery to try and save her vision. She's still got a long way to go for a full recovery, but she's not alone.

"Kern County and Bakersfield is an amazing place, and people respond very quickly," said Constantine. "They stood up and said, 'This is not acceptable in our community.'"

Even though the community is stepping up, Constantine added their work's not over yet.

"This is why we exist," he said about the Public Health Department. "To prevent this, to bring awareness to it, to encourage prosecution for these cases and do everything we can to stop this."

Constantine encourages the public to report instances of animal abuse they may see or know about and also encourages responsible pet ownership.

Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation has stepped in to accept donations for Lacey's recovery. Donations can be made on the foundation's website or by sending a check to the foundation at P.O. Box 11494, Bakersfield, CA, 93389.

The foundation requests donors make note if the money is intended to help Lacey.