Police say man punched, kicked dog in middle of street

Published: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 4:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 11:17 p.m.

A man who whose dog bit a bystander after the bystander tried to stop him from punching the dog was arrested on multiple charges early Tuesday morning, including animal cruelty.

The dog, described as a pit bull by police and witnesses, bit the bystander and was later choked so hard by the owner with the leash and collar that it trembled and defecated, according to a Gainesville Police Department report.

Witness Kami Hotchkiss said she and her friends saw Rene Paul Cohn Jr., 34, of 1740 NW Second Ave., outside his home dragging and kicking the white dog and trying to get it to bite the people just after midnight.

"The owner was completely drugged out of his mind. He was dragging this pit bull trying to get it to attack us. The dog was not doing anything to anybody, period. It was a nice dog," she said. "He was beating it in the middle of the street. Everybody was arguing with this guy. These other guys came up and it was a big commotion."

Police reported that Cohn kept saying "kill" to the dog. During the scene the dog bit David Matthew Chesser of Smyrna, Ga. A laceration to Chesser's leg required stitches.

Chesser could not be reached by The Sun for comment.

Once police arrived, Cohn ignored commands to stop walking away. He asked officer James Rengering if he had a gun and when Rengering said he did, Cohn said "kill" repeatedly to the dog.

Cohn tried to climb through a window into his home. Officers stopped him, but Cohn attempted to choke the dog by pulling on its leash, which was attached to a choke collar. The dog began trembling and defecated, the report said.

Cohn was arrested, and the dog was turned over to Alachua County Animal Services.

Animal Services Director Vernon Sawyer said the dog, whose name is unknown, was taken to an emergency veterinary practice for examination and then brought to the shelter. The dog appears to be in good condition.

Depending on the temperament of the dog and the outcome of the case, the dog could be offered for adoption, Sawyer said.

The agency must go through a legal process to get rights to the dog. The dog must also be kept as evidence in the criminal case against Cohn.

"We do (temperament evaluations) on all animals. We look at whether a bite was provoked or unprovoked and how the animal behaves here," Sawyer said. "Sometimes an animal will come in here and be shy or freaking out because it's in a cage, but after a couple of days of staff working with it, it will be fine."

Cohn was arrested on charges of animal cruelty, aggravated battery, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest without violence. He was being held on Tuesday at the Alachua County jail on $10,000 bond.

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