Man sets fire to his own dog
Wanting to get rid of his "vicious" dog, Derick Phanord led the pit bull mix up a wooded path about a block from his home, a plastic jug of gas in hand.
After tying Spike to a tree, "I poured the gasoline ... on to the dog. Then I said a prayer for the dog, made the sign of the crucifix," Phanord said, according to a written statement he made to police.
"I took the cigarette I was smoking and lit the gas that puddled on the ground. The gas caught on fire and the dog also caught on fire. I turned my back and walked away."
In his confession, Phanord, 22, of Brentwood, said he got Spike about a month ago and that the dog threatened his pregnant sister and repeatedly tried to bite him.
Phanord was arrested late Monday after the Suffolk Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received a tip that was passed on to Suffolk police. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday in First District Court in Central Islip to aggravated cruelty to an animal and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Phanord, who was held on $50,000 cash bail or bond, faces up to two years in prison on the felony cruelty charge.
"I do know he has a strong family," said his Smithtown attorney, Paul Barahal. "Obviously, they are very concerned about him."
In his confession, Phanord said his family demanded he get rid of Spike.
On the day of the burning, Phanord describes how Spike -- later named Maximus by a vet who tried to save his life -- "locked up" on the head of his pit bull puppy Red, tearing the dog's eyelid. Phanord said he threw bleach and detergent on Spike and banged on the ground with a shovel in an attempt to make him let go of Red, according to his statement.
Later that day, Phanord torched Spike and left him to die, police said.
The 2-year-old dog was discovered, still tied to the tree, on July 12 by a child who called 911. The dog suffered burns over 60 percent of his body and underwent several surgeries before dying on July 17.
Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross said that in addition to burns, the dog had a broken palate. Officials are unsure how much time passed before the dog was found, but it could have been as long as two days. "I've been doing this since 1984," Gross said. "This is one that will stick in my mind forever."
SPCA officials took Red from Phanord's home Tuesday, citing the dog's untreated eye injury, and plan to put the puppy up for adoption.
Thanks goes to Eric Hilf for emailing me this tragic news story.
Long Island man pleads not guilty to setting his dog on fire