SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — A 21-year-old Ontario man who allegedly set a 5-month-old puppy on fire was due in court Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Bernardo Vasquez, 21, faces arson and animal cruelty charges following his arrest on April 18, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office.
Police received a call around 10 p.m. from a caller who heard an animal crying and saw a puppy on fire and running down a wash behind the caller’s house on the 1100 block of La Deney Court, officials told KCAL 9’s Tom Wait.
“We looked outside, we looked around to see if someone hit a dog or something,” neighbor Arlene Flores, who heard the puppy’s cries, said. “We didn’t see anything, and then we heard someone hat (set) the dog on fire. It’s horrible, horrible. Who would do something like that?”
According to Inland Valley Human Society officers, it is possible that Vasquez may have used an accelerant. Investigators say that tips from the around the neighborhood helped them to track Vasquez down.
The mixed-breed puppy was treated by veterinarians at the Inland Valley Humane Society & SPCA for third-degree burns over 75 percent of its body, officials told Wait. But despite attempts by shelter veterinarians, the puppy did not survive its injuries.
“This animal suffered a lot, she was young, about five months old,” Inland Valley Human Society and S.P.C.A.’s Beth Les said. “She had been named by the neighborhood kids. Her name was Cheetah.”
If convicted, Vasquez could face up to over 3 years in state prison.
Officers, meanwhile, do not suspect the act was an accident.
“This wasn’t an accident,” Les said. “This was an act of pure malice.”
He was due in court Tuesday afternoon for a preliminary hearing.