COBB COUNTY, Ga. - A 23-year-old man was sentenced to 10 years for setting his family’s dog house on fire while the dog was inside.
Caleb Lanier was convicted of felony animal cruelty and one other felony charge for intentionally burning his dog over 60 percent of its body.
Veterinarian Regan Burford, who first treated the severely burned dog, testified in court.
"Royati should never had survived the abuse she endured or the agonizing treatment she fought through to survive,” he said.
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Prosecutors said Lanier used a torch to attack his brother’s dog and then sealed it in a dog house and set it on fire.
"She remains a silent victim to an unimaginable act of malice, malicious torture, abuse and disfigurement,” Burford said.
Burford eventually adopted the dog, named it Sweet Potato Fry, and painstakingly nursed it to recovery.
Lanier sat quietly through the sentencing, even as family members testified the former honor roll student had a promising future, and this incident seemed well out of place.
"I would never think that would fit into his character given the young man that I know,” one person testified.
“I know Caleb is no danger to the community,” another person said.
Prosecutors called Lanier dangerous, telling the judge he'd been in trouble recently and an expert testified studies show animal abusers usually don't stop there.
“There's a 70 percent chance they will commit other crimes in that time span,” psychologist Dr. Maya Gupta said.
Prosecutors wanted Lanier jailed for eight years, the judge cut that in half, sending him to prison for four years. The remainder of the sentence he'll serve on probation.
The dog, its new owner says, will have a lifetime of continuing health problems.
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