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Pets caught in the cycle of violence

Southbridge incident reflection of growing problem, experts say

August 19, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — An arrest very early Wednesday morning shone a spotlight on an often-unseen aspect of domestic violence — what happens to pets in the household.

Just after 1 a.m., police responded to neighbors' complaints of "loud yelling and fighting" in an apartment at 45 River St., according to court documents. Shortly after they arrived, Officer Michael Corriveau wrote that he found resident Eric Reyes, 31, sitting on the second-floor stairs holding a blood-soaked towel with a "severely injured" dog beside him and "a large amount of blood on the porch."

Reyes allegedly told Corriveau he had been fighting with his girlfriend of 12 years, when the dog "began barking and growling at him in a protective manner" and attempted to bite him. The report says Reyes grabbed a kitchen knife and cut the dog several times, then "attempted to comfort the dog and provide medical attention for it."

The girlfriend's statement essentially agreed, but alleged the dog, Princess, acted that way because Reyes had already damaged a door, taken her cell phone and had just tried to take the landline phone from her in the kitchen after ripping its cord from the wall. She told police the dog "began crying and retreating" after the first wound, but Reyes inflicted several more wounds, then rinsed off the weapon, Corriveau wrote.

Reyes was charged with domestic assault, cruelty to an animal, violating a restraining order, disturbing the peace and intimidating a witness, but he was formally arrested on the scene because of a warrant for driving after suspension. At his arraignment Wednesday morning, he pled not guilty but was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing Aug. 23.

Corriveau's report also notes the police intend to have the state Department of Children and Families look into the case because there were two children in the house. He wrote the apartment was "in disarray beyond what was caused by [this] incident" and the "children's shared bedroom was filthy."

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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