A 52-year-old man in Florida was arrested this week after he nearly beat his dog to death, thrashing the defenseless animal so thoroughly that blood spatter was found in multiple rooms of his home, authorities said. James Michael Lyster was taken into custody on Monday and charged with one count of felony aggravated animal cruelty, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office announced.
According to Sheriff Carmine Marceno, the investigation into Lyster began in the pre-dawn hours of Monday, at 3 a.m., when LCSO deputies responded to a noise complaint at a unit in the Park Crest Apartments in Fort Meyers, Florida. The person who called 911 told the dispatcher they could hear yelling, banging, and what sounded like a dog squealing in pain from a neighboring apartment.
First responders discovered a grisly scene.
“At the front door, deputies observed blood spatter on the ground leading to that apartment,” the sheriff said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. “The suspect eventually opened the door, and when asked if he had a dog, the suspect dropped an 8-year-old Pomeranian without saying one word. The shaking dog’s face was covered in blood, and it was actively bleeding from its nose, and it was so injured that it could not stand.”
When the “shocked” deputies asked Lyster what had happened, Lyster allegedly replied, “I got mad,” the sheriff said.
Deputies found additional blood spatter on the walls in Lyster’s bathroom, living room, and master bedroom.
“Blood was splattered across the wall where Lyster had kicked Benji into it,” Marceno said. “Veterinarians discovered that Benji had suffered a broken jaw, internal bleeding in his abdomen, and he will need additional surgeries in the future to remove his broken teeth.”
Lyster is a convicted felon with a history of criminal activity in other states, according to the sheriff’s office.
During the news conference, Marceno showed a photo of Benji after he was taken by deputies and received emergency medical treatment.
“That picture says it all,” Marceno said, pointing at an image of Benji with blood near his jaw. “That’s not a human being that does that to a poor, defenseless little animal. I can promise you this is going to stop. We will never stop working to protect those who cannot protect themselves. That’s not a human being that does that. That’s a cold-hearted person that had no regard for life.”
Marceno said that Benji is expected to recover fully, but that will take quite a while. Benji will stay at the sheriff’s office until authorities find him a new home.
Lyster is currently scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 26.
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