APACHE JUNCTION, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A now-former Mesa Police officer is facing animal cruelty charges after an investigation revealed witnesses saw and surveillance video showed him dragging his dog behind his truck.
According to court documents, on April 9, Apache Junction police were called to a property near Colt Road and 37th Avenue for an animal cruelty investigation. Responding officers met the property manager, who witnessed a truck dragging a dog behind it. The manager showed surveillance video to officers, which showed a large, dark quad cab pickup truck heading south on Colt Road with something being dragged a few feet behind it. As the truck turned to head west on 37th Avenue, the object being pulled behind the truck was identified as a brown dog on the video. Paperwork states the video showed the manager running out toward the street and try to flag down the vehicle, but the truck continued down the road.
The manager told investigators as the truck drove down 37th Avenue, it passed a delivery truck. The delivery truck driver reportedly made a U-turn and chased the truck, and honked the horn. The manager said he tried to give chase as well, but by the time he got into his car and drove down to Baseline Avenue, he said both the truck and delivery truck were gone. Eric Read was the one driving the delivery truck. "Once I passed by him I realized that he was dragging his dog behind his truck with the chain around the dog's neck," he said. "I mean, just seeing something like that is traumatizing."
The officers then went down the street to Paws and Claws Care Center, which is a municipal shelter for Apache Junction and a division of the police department.
The shelter manager told officers that a man, later identified as Spencer Allen, had stopped into the shelter, claiming he found an injured stray dog that was hit by a car on the side of the road and that he wanted it euthanized. The manager said Allen walked in holding the dog by the collar and that it was bleeding badly. The dog appeared alert, but the manager told investigators the skin on the back legs had been ripped off. The manager checked for a microchip as Allen repeated the dog needed euthanasia. The manager told Allen they couldn't euthanize since it might have an owner and it needed medical attention as soon as possible. Staff directed Allen to the veterinary hospital in Mesa, where Allen said he was "headed in that direction anyway," and he left with the dog. The officers showed the shelter staff a photo of Allen, whom all three said was the man who brought in the dog.
About a half-hour after that, the manager said Read came into the shelter and said he'd witnessed a man dragging a dog chained to his truck bumper. The driver also contacted police, saying as he tried to give chase to alert Allen of the dog, Allen turned west on Baseline Avenue and quickly accelerated to about 45 mph. As he tried to catch up, he told investigators another vehicle got Allen to stop west of Idaho Road and that he saw Allen unchain the dog from behind the truck, pick it up by the scruff of the next and throw it in the backseat.
"It's like disgust and anger. I was ready to fight him almost, but it was really, really bad. I mean it's indescribable," Read said.
The officers then went to the veterinary hospital in Mesa, where the hospital manager confirmed a man came in with an injured dog and asked the staff to euthanize it. While at the hospital, Allen told staff he was an off-duty police officer. Allen also told staff he thought the dog was hit by a car, but they stated the dog's injuries did not look consistent with what Allen described, investigators said. Allen filled out paperwork stating the dog was a stray and that as a police officer, he was used to interacting with stray dogs during the line of duty, and he felt the dog "should just be euthanized." Staff noted that Allen was "exceptionally calm and collected for someone who had brought in a dog so extensively injured." The dog was taken to the Arizona Humane Society the next day. During surgery, it was discovered that the road rash was so deep it punctured the dog's abdominal cavity, causing a collapsed lung.
On April 15, Apache Junction police called Allen, requesting that he come down to the station to make a statement regarding the investigation. Allen said he was in the middle of remodeling a home and added that he worked for Mesa police. The investigators said they would go to Allen, who noted before ending the call the dog looked like it was hit by a car, and that it was very friendly despite its injuries. Before heading to Allen, officers called AHS and learned the dog had to be euthanized the previous day.
"I'm just glad that the dog was euthanized and put down, because no dog should ever be put through that," Read said.
Detectives met with Allen around 11 a.m., who said he was out in Apache Junction on April 9 to use the landfill. He said he was driving west on Baseline Avenue when he saw the dog on the north side of the road before Idaho Road, so he stopped to pick it up and take it to the nearby animal shelter. Court documents show that Allen even joked with the detectives when he put the dog in his back seat; he wished he'd "put it in the truck bed instead because there was so much blood."
After hearing Allen's story and repeating it back to him for Allen to verify his version of events, detectives told Allen a witness had seen him dragging the dog behind his truck. When asked if the dog was his, Allen replied it wasn't. Detectives then revealed they had two witnesses and a video of the dog being dragged. Allen then confessed the dog was his "pup," adding that "I know better, for sure." Allen said he'd had the dog for seven years and that it had never jumped out of the truck, that he always had the dog "tied down." Allen says he panicked and that there was no excuse. He went on to say, "in today's world, it seems like every chance they can get to crucify someone, it's gonna happen ... it's my time on the chopping block."
Allen said the dog's name was Cosmo and that it wasn't registered with the county. He said he "should have foot the bill" to have the dog euthanized. He explained to detectives he tied the dog up in the bed of the truck because he "never believed in dogs inside cars, don't believe in dogs in the house."
"I'm very realistic when it comes to animals. I love my dogs, but in the end, they're dogs. Like, they're not humans, I don't put 'em above humans, I don't put them equal to humans. Never have, and never will, but obviously, I should have been better on that one and just taken ownership of it cuz it was an accident, and all this would have been done. So, it is what it is," Allen stated, according to court documents.
Allen was booked into the Pinal County Jail for recommended charges of animal cruelty.