A Newport Beach man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a felony animal cruelty charge that he hit, kicked and swung an 8-month old puppy around by the neck, using its leash like a lasso.
Verne Joseph Strong, 56, was arrested Sunday in a Westminster Wal-Mart parking lot after witnesses called police to report the alleged abuse, according to a news release from the Orange County district attorney's office. He entered his plea in the West Justice Center, an Orange County Superior Court in Westminster.
About 6:45 p.m., Strong and his girlfriend, Angel Marie Holmes, 37, of Newport Beach, were arguing in the store parking lot, authorities said. While they fought, Strong opened the trunk to their car, and took out their 8-month-old, 8-pound Chihuahua-dachshund mix puppy, Meanie, which had been locked inside, prosecutors said.
Strong is accused of then swinging Meanie around by the leash, which was wrapped around her neck, before throwing the dog to the ground. He then allegedly kicked the dog so hard it slid under the car.