The name Marcos Montano-Topete probably doesn’t mean much to you. But, if you read local news, you surely remember the story of the unincorporated Redwood City man who beat his neighbor’s dog with a brick last March.
He apparently told his 16-year-old neighbor that he was tired of the dog wandering into his yard. He also told deputies that his family was fearful of the 12-pound dog.
The jury didn’t buy it. They deliberated two hours last Friday before convicting Montano-Topete of malicious killing of an animal and animal cruelty, both felonies. He was taken into custody and will be sentenced in March. He could be ordered to spend up to three years in jail.
The Peninsula Humane Society’s Lead Veterinarian served as an expert in the trial. She concluded from her necropsy (an autopsy for animals) that the little dog’s injuries were very consistent with blunt force trauma like that from a brick.
In the high profile animal cruelty cases, we’re often asked if we’re pleased with the guilty verdicts. We’ll never use pleased to describe any aspects of a case like this.
We feel fortunate that we have a District Attorney’s Office in San Mateo County that takes animal cruelty cases seriously. This doesn’t happen in every county. We are grateful that this community supports our work; generous donations fund 100% of our animal cruelty investigation work. Currently, this includes two full-time investigators who receive the best training available.
And, we’re thankful that so many local residents speak out and provide information to us when they see something that doesn’t feel right to them.
Animal cruelty investigations work is not guns blazing, save-the day kind of work that one might see in a typical Animal Cops episode where cases have closure, bad guys get hauled off and the animals have more happy endings than sad ones. For one, we carry no guns. An average day for our investigators involves following-up on many calls where people assume they’ve seen laws broken and assume we have authority to remove animals from bad situations.
In most cases, laws aren’t being broken. The applicable laws here say owners need only provide their pets food, water, shelter, vet care (if they need it) and sanitary conditions. The laws don’t say much about quality of life, they don’t say a dog has to be walked (ever!), taken inside the home, socialized, loved or offered a life besides a lonely one in a backyard.
In some case, we can take a stronger action. We can issue Veterinary Treatment Notices, ordering owners to seek medical attention for their pet. Far more often, education is our tool. We try to help owners understand how they can be more humane and offer their pets a better life. Of course, we also let them know they can surrender their pets to us and, fortunately, some do, which allows us to find a better home.
Still, there are those rare cases where we have the legal grounds to take a pet from an owner. Sadly, not all of these animals can be rehomed because of the physical abuse they’ve suffered which has left them too physically or emotionally scarred.
Some people may wonder why we bother. We keep doing this work – with such long odds – because it’s what a humane society should do. And, because every animal counts. We count the wins one at a time.
To support our animal cruelty work, please contact Lisa Van Buskirk at 650/340-7022, ext. 327or LVanBuskirk@PHS-SPCA.org.