Man pleads not guilty in dog beating case


An Orange County man who allegedly beat his dog with a 3-foot switch in Del Mar because the canine ate his lunch pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of intentional cruelty to animals, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Gabriel Miguel Moreno faces up to a year in custody and three years probation if convicted. He was arraigned Monday at the Vista Courthouse, said Deputy District Attorney Kate Flaherty.

A readiness conference was scheduled for June 9.

Moreno was arrested last Tuesday when he showed up at an animal control shelter in Carlsbad to pick up his 8-year-old Australian cattle dog, Bandito, said Lt. Dan DeSousa, a public information officer for animal control.

The defendant -- a San Juan Capistrano resident -- admitted beating his dog with a 1-inch-diameter eucalyptus branch on April 26 in a stable at the Del Mar Horse Park, where he was working for a horse owner, according to DeSousa.

Someone who heard the animal’s yelps confronted Moreno, then called authorities. By the time animal services personnel arrived, Moreno had gone, leaving Bandito behind.

Moreno, who was identified as Bandito’s owner through the animal’s registration tag, voluntarily relinquished his custody of the animal, which will be put up for adoption, DeSousa said.