REDLANDS ( — Animal cruelty investigators with the Humane Society were looking into allegations Friday that a Southern California Gas Co. employee fatally struck a Yorkshire terrier while on the job.

The incident allegedly occurred Thursday around 1:50 p.m. when a SoCal Gas meter reader came to the 1400 block of Washington Street in Redlands, KCAL 9’s Tom Wait reported.

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Resident Cathy Rodriguez told Wait her three Yorkies, including 5-year-old Bean Bean, barked and approached the employee when the meter reader walked onto her property.

She told Wait that one of the little dogs might have even nipped the employee. She said the man said he was just defending himself. He told her he had already been bitten by dogs three times that day.

Rodriguez claims the employee swung at Bean Bean with a baton-like instrument – a rubber stick designed to shoo away pesky pets – and hit the diminutive 6-pound dog.

“He swung the baton … and he knocked her out right here,” said Rodriguez.

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“I was screaming at him, I was just holding her. I said, ‘Somebody get the [car] keys. We have to take her to the vet,” said Rodriguez.

Bean Bean died at a local animal hospital a short time later from “blunt force trauma to the side of the head,” Humane Society of San Bernardino Officer Frank Padilla told The Press-Enterprise.

KNX 1070’s Jan Stevens reports SoCal Gas spokeswoman Anne Silva says the company takes the allegations “very seriously.”

“We don’t want employees, customers, or pets to get hurt in any way,” said Silva. “We train our employees to treat pet encounters with care and caution…we know that pets are part of the family.”

Members of the Humane Society of San Bernardino were expected to meet with the unidentified meter reader and a supervisor later Thursday.

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Upon receiving the results of that meeting, a city prosecutor will determine whether to file charges.