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Community outraged at savage beating of dogs

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In less than 24 hours, the video of a man violently throwing and punching a pair of dogs Friday morning went viral and resulted in the arrest of the man believed to be caught on camera.

Two broken legs, a fractured skull, and damaged kidneys - these are just some of the injuries dogs Rex and Lucky sustained as a result of a brutal beating that took place Friday morning, as captured on a viral video on social media. While Lucky is at home recovering, Wise Owl veterinarian Dr. Joel Joseph says Rex remains in their care.

Monday afternoon Rex laid quietly in his kennel wearing a green and purple cast bearing "Get Well" wishes from vet staff. "Despite their traumatizing encounter, both Rex and Lucky are two of the most  wonderful dogs you'll ever want to see," Dr. Joseph said. Within a day of the incident, 30-year-old Steven Paul Cepeda Borja was arrested and charged with animal abuse, terrorizing, and criminal mischief. Borja's bail was set at $10,000.

"Personally I consider this a crime against society," Joseph added. "And if somebody is doing that I would fear for society and I don't know why we would let him out. That's my opinion." According to the veterinarian, Guam laws specifically address animal cruelty. The problem is enforcement. "We see a lot of injuries like this. we see people throw chains at animals trying to have them trained. We have treated numerous injuries from that," he said.

"We as a community on Guam are responsible for reporting these incidents. Our police department, is responsible for accepting police reports. Those who choose to stand by and do nothing are not helping the cause. And I believe are just as guilty," he said.

Friday's incident is an example of this. According to the dogs' owner, Alfredo Bustamante, four others watched as his pets were beaten by Borja. "No one person was able to be a man or to be compassionate to go down and stop the beating. That's the thing that shocked me the most," he told KUAM News.  Bustamante added, "We have to do something else. We have to speak up. We have to do something about it. Yes, you can take a video, but it's not the same as you stopping the beating."

Court documents state Borja was employed by Bustamante to do general labor at the Tamuning home. On Friday morning Borja resigned and the two engaged in a heated argument. Borja allegedly attempted to punch Bustamante, but Bustamante wrestled him to the ground and held him down before ordering to get off his property.

According to court documents, Borja allegedly threatened to shoot his former boss, "I'm going to shoot you, you watch your back."

Borja alleges Rex bit him on his finger and that Bustamante punched him in the face, but police only observed injuries consistent with being wrestled to the ground as well as an injury to Borja's pinky finger. Borja's preliminary hearing has been set for September 22.

Guam Animals In Need has issued a statement in response to Friday's dog beating. According to Cyrus Luhr from GAIN's board of directors, "We're outraged by the violence captured on video. And we hope this case will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Far too often, pets suffering from extreme abuse and neglect are brought to our animal shelter. This case stands out simply because the violence was captured on video.

"We're reaching out to provide our support to the Bustamante family, and like everyone, we wish Rex and Lucky a speedy and full recovery."

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