Accused dog abuser remains in custody

August 5, 2008 10:35:20 PM PDT
Robert Brunette remains in custody Tuesday. He told ABC7 News he pled not guilty Monday to 10 counts of animal abuse because he claims he has never mistreated any of his 50 dogs.

Judge Jeffery Almquist told Brunette on Monday that he could be released on his own recognizance if he promised to comply with a few conditions. But Brunette remains in custody because he feels those conditions were unreasonable.

"They want to release me like a convict under supervised parole, which I believe, I believe I?m innocent and haven?t committed any crimes and I didn?t like the deal they gave me," Brunette told ABC7 News by phone.

The deal was a supervised release; he would have to call in everyday with his location, agree not to buy anymore animals or try to recover any of the 40 dogs that were taken from his property last week. He would also have to help animal services capture 10 other dogs still roaming his three acre home.

"I thought I had to act like a guilty person and be under parole just like, you know, some rapist or some burglar, which, you know, I?m not even that," Brunette said.

Brunette could spend six years in jail if he is convicted of the 10 counts of animal abuse and neglect. The mistreated dogs Santa Cruz County Animal Services collected from Brunette's remote Boulder Creek property last week ranged from severely malnourished to diseased. Half of the dogs are very young puppies. Brunette claims he never hurt them.

"I do love my dogs and I wouldn't do that to them," he said.

Brunette claims animal services officers pepper sprayed his dogs in order to catch them and kicked some of the dogs in the ribs. The charge infuriated animal services.

"We have not kicked any of them; we have not pepper sprayed any of them," animal services spokesperson Tricia Geisreiter said.

The dogs are now getting the love and affection they deserve, Geisreiter said.

Brunette says he wants a new attorney who is familiar with animal law. His attorney told ABC7 News he has not been told about this request.

Brunette is due to appear in court Wednesday morning. The judge is expected to tell him to sign the release agreement or come up with $100,000 in bail. If he does neither, he will remain in jail until his next court appearance scheduled for October 3.


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