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Zoraida Garcia charged in beating dog with a flashlight

6:13 PM, Apr 2, 2012   |    comments
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Bradenton, Florida - Veteran detectives call it disturbing. Even longtime veterinarians who have seen it all say, it's "sick."

The pain a pit bull dog had to endure on Sunday night is unimaginable. The pup, thought to be between two and five years old, was beaten mercilessly with a thick, metal flashlight, similar to a "maglite."

Photo Gallery: Dog beaten with flashlight recovering

Manatee deputies say the dog whimpered and cried as she was struck continuously by Zoraida Garcia, a 59-year-old woman who was working as a security guard at Cruz Tow Yard in Bradenton.

Christopher George lives nearby and was a witness. He told 10 News, "It's horrible, it's horrible. It's horrible. You don't do that to an animal, any animal.  They're our children."

George heard the dog crying in pain, but wasn't sure what was going on around 10:15 Sunday night. Seconds later, Manatee deputies surrounded the place. They were originally called out for a nearby car alarm that wouldn't stop.

"We thought they were there for the car alarm," George said. "I didn't know what was really going on with the dog. It breaks my heart."

When deputies arrived at the tow yard, they couldn't believe what they found. Even veteran investigators say it made them extremely upset.

Deputies say they saw Garcia, "ferociously beating" the pit bull and that the dog was in "constant pain, yelping in distress."

That's when deputies ordered Garcia to stop. Instead, they say the 59-year-old came at them with what they thought was a rifle. Turns out, it was a BB gun.

Garcia surrendered, but the frail and frightened dog could barely walk and was bleeding from her head and leg.

Longtime veterinarian Dr. Luke Berglund treated the pup.

"[She was in] a lot of pain, very frightened," Dr. Berglund told us. "She's a nice dog."

Dr. Berglund has been treating animals for more than a decade and says what he saw shocked him.

"It's pretty sick that people do this. Hopefully she will feel better and we can get her into a good home," he said.

The dog is currently recovering at the vet's office and her future looks good. In fact, a deputy wants to adopt her, hoping to trade in her days as a guard dog for the job she wants most, man's best friend.

10 News spoke with the owner of the tow yard today, Miguel Cruz, who stands behind his employee saying that she was just trying to stop the animal from attacking another dog.

However, deputies aren't buying the story.

Garcia has a criminal record that includes probation violation, retail theft and driving on a suspended license.

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