CHHEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) Friday morning, 58-year old Michael Tortorici was arraigned in Cheektowaga Town Court on charges of felony aggravated animal cruelty and a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child.
Tortorici was originally charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty but the charges were upgraded after police reviewed the animal's autopsy report.
Prosecutors say that in early November, Tortorici beat his German Sheppard dog with a 2-by-4 piece of wood and a bar stool before shooting the animal with a shotgun.
Police say a 12-year old boy was in the house and the actions of the defendant put the child's safety at risk.
Defense attorney Frank LoTempio III entered a "not-guilty" plea on behalf of his client.
LoTempio told reporters afterwards that Tortorici was acting in self-defense after the dog attacked him.
Cheektowaga Town Justice Paul Piotrowski ordered the defendant to not have any animals while his case is being handled - with the next court appearance scheduled for December 13th.