SALT LAKE CITY — A preliminary hearing has been set for a 19-year-old man accused of torturing his girlfriend's 3-month-old border collie for weeks, resulting in the dog's death.
In November, Mikah M. Johnson, 19, of Salt Lake City, was charged in 3rd District Court with three counts of torture of a companion animal, a third-degree felony; and two counts of cruelty to animals, a class B misdemeanor.
Between July and August, Johnson allegedly beat Moose, a 3-month-old dog that he shared with his live-in girlfriend. According to charging documents: witnesses heard him allegedly beating the dog for 45 minutes on July 20; he sprayed Lysol in the dog's face on another day; and beat Moose again for 30 minutes on Aug. 18.
A witness told police "she could hear his cries coming from the living room. She believes she heard Johnson hit Moose 10 to 15 times. During that time she heard Moose make a gurgling sound like an animal being strangled," the charges state.
A veterinarian determined Moose died of "severe pulmonary hemorrhage" from at least two episodes of blunt force trauma, charging documents state. The dog had a fractured jaw, missing teeth, a liver ruptured in two places, extensive bleeding in his lungs, extensive bruising between the eyes extending back toward his spine and severe eye injuries, according to police.
On Friday, Johnson was ordered by a judge to be booked into the Salt Lake County Jail and released to Pre-trial Services. He was ordered to have no contact with animals or children pending the outcome of his case, according to court records. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 18.
The animal abuse case has received national attention. Several emails and letters have been submitted to the judge from across the country since the charges were initially filed.
"This person committed a murder to the most innocent! Please let justice be served with a very harsh punishment!" one email states.
"Please put this person in jail. Or do the same to him!" a woman wrote.
"A helpless, defenseless puppy was abused and killed. The person responsible is a criminal and needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," another woman wrote.
A woman from Massachusetts sent the court a letter stating "many people around the country" were following the case. She went on to call the defendant a "sadistic, bully" who used the dog as his "personal punching bag," according to the letter filed in court.