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Jail ordered for Utahn who beat dog after it peed on his bed

Michael Anthony Fario
Michael Anthony Fario
Salt Lake County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY — A South Jordan man whose 8-month-old Australian shepherd died after he beat the dog for peeing on his bed has been ordered to serve roughly eight months in jail.

Michael Anthony Fario, 25, was criminally charged in May after veterinarians determined his dog Pip suffered fractures to its ribs and liver, and had severe trauma to its thoracic and abdominal cavities.

Third District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills on Monday sentenced Fario to 240 days in jail without the possibility of early release, plus three years of probation.

The judge ordered Fario to undergo an in-custody addiction treatment program, plus an anger management evaluation and to complete any recommended therapy. He also is required to have no contact with minor children while on probation.

Fario in May admitted intentionally or knowingly torturing a companion animal, a third-degree felony, plea documents show. A conviction carries a possible prison sentence of up to five years, but in exchange for the plea, prosecutors recommended no prison time. A misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice also was dismissed as part of a plea bargain.

On March 25, investigators were called to Fario's home by his stepfather, who told them he had seen his stepson punch the dog repeatedly with closed fists and once heard a "thudding" sound after the dog urinated on Fario's bed, charging documents state.

Fario allegedly told investigators he took issue with the puppy peeing on his bed several days in a row, so he "smacked" and "spanked" the dog. Charges say he noticed the puppy acting strange and not eating or drinking in the days before its death, but he did not call a veterinarian. When he discovered the dog had died, investigators say he put it in a trash bag in an outside garbage can.

Police said Fario had the Australian shepherd for six months before its death.

In the days after he was first charged, Fario's mother submitted a letter to the court. She said he needed treatment for anger and addiction and that he acknowledges he should not own a pet again, at least until he deals with those issues.

"I know he is not an evil person," she wrote, adding that her son was in extreme pain as he came off of methadone.