LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A Lancaster County man is going to prison for stealing a car and fatally stabbing his dog in separate incidents.
Joseph W. Elliott, 29, of Elizabethtown, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty for the dog’s death and counts of receiving stolen property and false identification regarding the stolen car, the district attorney’s office said.
In exchange for the pleas, he will serve one to two years in prison and three years of probation.
Police officers called to Elliott’s apartment in April found him nude in the doorway and a dead dog in the bathroom. Elliott told the officers he had consumed methamphetamine and choked the dog because it put “a hex on him.”
A necropsy determined the dog sustained eight lacerations and bruising.
Humane Officer Jen Nields investigated the case and says it’s the worst physical case of animal abuse she’s ever seen.
“The way he was gagged and the multiple lacerations that were on him from stab wounds, and then just the bruising and contusions that he has and the blunt-force trauma, it was definitely a horrendous time for this dog during his death,” said Nields, who works for the Lancaster County Animal Coalition.
Mandi Balmer lives across the street. She’s a big dog lover and can’t believe this happened so close to home.
“I was really shocked,” Balmer said. Elizabethtown is a really small town, and unfortunately we’re not safe from crime and abuse and drugs any longer.”
Elliott received the maximum penalty at time for the crime because Libre’s Law was not in effect. He pled guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty charge, but under the new law, he could have received a third-degree felony punishment.
“We’re better positioned to protect animals going forward with Libre’s Law in cases like this, and hopefully we won’t have anymore like this,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said.
The district attorney’s office said he stole the car days earlier and gave police a false name – the name of the car’s owner.