SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Cell phone video of a Utah man beating his dog is raising a lot of questions. Why wasn’t the dog taken away the first time Animal Control responded? Do bystanders have a duty to report suspected abuse? The answers are more complicated than you think.
On Friday, Tina Tilt recorded her neighbor Robert Guzman beating his dog named Blue. In the video, Guzman can be seen hitting and kicking Blue.
Guzman told Good4Utah’s Brittany Johnson that although the video looks bad, he didn’t mean any harm.
“That’s taken out of context. That’s from perspective. Little do they know that I’m trying to grab a piece of the damn baby bird. They wouldn’t know that — they wouldn’t see that. I understand it wouldn’t look right but I’m telling you what happened,” Guzman explained.
Guzman went on to say that his family takes care of a baby bird they named Soldier. He noticed that Blue had eaten Soldier and he was just trying to save him.
“So right there when I’m smacking him, it’s because I’m trying to check his damn mouth, and he still has some in there, and I’m like, ‘no no no,’ and he’s trying to swallow it, and I’m trying to grab it, and get him out of it, because he still has a piece of the damn bird in his mouth,” Guzman further explained, while watching the video.
Tilt said this isn’t the first time she has seen Guzman beat his dog.
“We’ve seen him yank it and throw it out the front door. It’s horrible what he does to it,” said Tilt.
Salt Lake County Animal Services has no past complaints about Guzman, but after multiple calls from neighbors on Friday, an officer did make a welfare call to his home, but did not take Blue away.
“That animal did not appear in any way shape or form to have any injury, physical abuse — no limping or anything of that nature,” said Captain Robert Lewis, Salt Lake County Animal Services.
Because of Tilt’s cell phone video, officers returned to the Guzman home on Sunday and took the dog away so it could be checked by a veterinarian for internal injuries.
Cpt. Lewis states that under Utah laws, animals are considered personal property, so they can’t just go to someone’s home and take them.
“There’s so much criteria and investigation that goes into determining if an animal is physically removed from the home or if it is allowed to stay in the home.”
A lot of people have left comments on the ABC4 Utah Facebook page asking why Blue wasn’t taken away if a citation was issued. Good4Utah’s Brittany Johnson asked Cpt. Lewis about that.
“It is based on a lot of criteria,” replied Capt. Lewis. “A lot of citations are issued where an animal is not taken away. If a dog bites you, chances are the dog owner is going to get a citation. The dog will be placed on a quarantine situation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog is being taken away.”
As to whether or not Guzman will get Blue back — “The investigation is ongoing,” said Cpt. Lewis.
In Utah, it is not mandatory for bystanders to report suspected animal abuse, but Cpt. Lewis says it is “strongly recommended” that you do.
To report animal abuse, click here or call dispatch 801-743-7045.