A California man was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday for physically abusing his neighbors' dogs using various methods, including acid and poison.
David C. Herbert, 37, a former Navy corpsman, was convicted last August on six counts of animal cruelty, one count of burglary and four misdemeanor counts of vandalism for harming two separate families’ dogs, one of which remains missing, Fox5 reported.
In April of 2017, police said, Maria Morales and her 4-year-old son came home to find their home vandalized and Estrella, their Siberian husky, with an eye gouged out. This forced them to move away in fear of their safety.
"How do you explain to a 4-year-old that a human being gets to be so cruel?” Morales reportedly said in the courtroom.
Police said Herbert’s computer showed searches for “How to get a dog to drink antifreeze.”
A new family moved in a month later, and within two days their Golden retriever, Lala, had disappeared. The dog is missing and presumed dead, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Herbert represented himself at trial and testified that Lala had jumped in his car and escaped as he was driving to an animal shelter. Police found blood in his vehicle and on his baseball bat.
Michelle Plaketta, the owner of the dog, said in court that her daughter "doesn’t have a best friend anymore," according to the newspaper.
Judge Carlos Armour has heard 40 years’ worth of murder cases and called this one "particularly shocking."
Herbert's lawyer said his client has "major depressive disorder," according to court records.