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PETA enters puppy abuse case

From staff reports

A national animal rights groups is urging "vigorous prosecution" of an Austin man accused of abusing a puppy.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced Friday that the group had written a letter to Mower County Attorney Pat Flanagan about Travis D. Leake of Austin.

Leake is charged with a gross-misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals for allegedly kicking and dragging his six-month-old pit bull puppy on Jan. 26. He is scheduled to appear in Mower County Court on Monday.

He was arrested after three children told their mother they had seen him kick his pit bull puppy into the air while walking on a northwest Austin sidewalk.

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"On behalf of our thousands of members and supporters in Minnesota, we respectfully ask that, if convicted and in addition to serving a period of incarceration, Leake be required to undergo a thorough psychological evaluation followed by mandatory counseling at his own expense -- the safety of the community may depend on it," PETA stated in the letter to Flanagan.

Flanagan was not available Friday night to answer questions about the letter and the case.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based group also urged the county attorney to have Leake banned for life from ever owning another animal.

"Because repeat crimes are the rule rather than the exception among animal abusers and given the violent nature of his alleged actions that day, we implore your office to take every measure necessary to ensure that Leake, if convicted, is prohibited for life from having ownership, custody, or control of animals -- as is allowed by state law -- and to immediately seize any animals who may remain in his charge," said the letter by PETA researcher Dan Paden.

On Jan. 26, the three children's mother called authorities, and Austin police Detective Dave Schafer went looking for the 22-year-old Leake. He spotted him walking a bike with one hand and dragging the black puppy on a leash with the other, according to the criminal complaint.

Leake had stopped and was screaming at the puppy, which was lying motionless on the sidewalk, the complaint stated. When Schafer stopped Leake, the puppy was alive with its eyes open, but otherwise was motionless and bleeding from wounds, the complaint stated.

Leake, who had owned the purebred pit bull for two weeks, allegedly told police that his friends had told him to beat the dog into submission to prevent it from turning on him when it got older.

The complaint alleged Leake admitted he had kicked the puppy and was "extremely frustrated" with it because the dog never listened to him and defecated all over his apartment.

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