Man Arrested on Animal Cruelty Charges

November 7, 2013 Updated Nov 7, 2013 at 3:32 PM EDT

By Jill Perkins

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Man Arrested on Animal Cruelty Charges

November 7, 2013 Updated Nov 7, 2013 at 3:32 PM EDT

A man from the Cheektowaga area is behind bars after allegedly killing his family pet.

Police say Michael. J. Tortorici, 58, brutally beat his dog before shooting and killing it at his Sloan residence.

Two Cheektowaga officers responded to Tortorici's home on Broadway in Sloan back on November 3rd.

Upon arriving at the residence, the officers located the dead German Shepherd, whose body lay lifeless on the basement floor.

Investigators say Tortorici admitted he shot the dog because it attacked him. Officers say they observed that the dog had been beaten severely.

Upon further investigation, officers say they learned that the family pet named Max was sleeping in a bedroom earlier that day when Tortorici started to yell at the dog, becoming increasingly aggressive with the animal.

Investigators say the man then began to brutally beat the dog by punching, kicking and pulling the dog by the head which prompted the pet to bite Tortorici on the wrist, then let go. Police say the man then beat the dog with a wooden bar stool.

The investigation continued to reveal that a 12 year old boy who was in the home took the dog outside into a fenced yard.

Tortorici then allegedly went outside and continued to beat the dog with a 2 X 4.

Investigators say the man then took the dog inside the home, shooting him with a 12 gauge shotgun in the stomach.

Animal Control Officer Scott Thrun, who works for the Town of Cheektowaga, took custody of the dog's body before it was turned over to the SPCA.

Officials with the SPCA confirmed through a necropsy that the dog was severely beaten over the head, suffering multiple fractures including one to the eye socket.

Jeff Eyre, Special Agent in Charge of Investigations for the SPCA said the gunshot wound was not immediately fatal, indicating that Max had suffered severely before he died.

Tortorici was arraigned in front of Judge Paul Piotrowski who set his bail at $25,000, "noting the heinousness of the crime," according to a police report.

Tortorici who was sent to the Erie County Holding Center was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, endangering the welfare of a child and discharging a firearm.