Veterinarian, dog trainer weigh in on video of Lincoln man kicking dog

Although the dog owner won't be cited for his actions, a Lincoln vet and a local dog trainer say behavior like that is unacceptable.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – After a video of a Lincoln man aggressively kicking his dog in the parking lot of a local gun shop circulated, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s department announced Thursday that the man won’t be cited. Local dog and animal experts weighed in on the situation saying such behavior is unacceptable.

A press release sent by county Sheriff Terry Wagner says the man’s actions seen in the brief video didn’t meet state statutes, which defines cruelly mistreating an animal as “knowingly and intentionally kill, maim, disfigure, beat, mutilate, burn, scald, or otherwise inflict any harm upon.”

Local veterinarian Dr. Tony Moravec spoke with Channel 8 Eyewitness News on potential dangers and damages animals could face from being abused.

“Any type of forced trauma to the stomach or abdomen area could result in injuries to internal organs such as the spleen, liver, kidneys, bladder, the intestinal tract,” Dr. Moravec says. “Any kind of internal organ system is not immune to blunt trauma, it can really cause long-term impact.”

Contacted by phone, the dog’s owner told Channel 8 he kicked the animal because it “was acting like a total a–hole.”

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the owner said the “alpha male” dog “sometimes requires physical discipline.”

Dr. Moravec, who works with Driftwood Vet in Lincoln, says that while sometimes training does, in fact, require physical discipline, he says the discipline must be humane.

“What is humane is really dictated by what you would expect someone to do to some other human, that’s humane. Kicking something, reprimanding by hitting or punching is not humane treatment.”

“Dogs don’t understand physical hits, they don’t understand kicking, punching, slapping, or anything of that nature. It is just not how they learn,” says Paul Stromberg, a dog trainer, and owner of Citizen K9 Training Academy in Lincoln.

Stromberg says watching the video was disturbing and heartbreaking. Now, he’s started a petition to have the incident further investigated by someone with more knowledge on animals and dogs than a Sheriff’s Deputy.

“I want him to be educated,” Stromberg says.

Dr. Moravec says treatment like that is unacceptable for an animal of any size, whether they are two pounds or 200 pounds. He also says hurting, hitting, or abusing an animal for bad behavior only breaks the animal’s trust and keeps the cycle going.

“Whether they can quote-unquote “take it” because they’re bigger, doesn’t repair the trust, the bond, that we have as humans to animals and when we break that trust, that’s where those behavioral issues continue to spiral,” Dr. Moravec says.

Another concern when veterinarians like Moravec see animal abuse is the potential for further abuse to the animal and others who may be in the same household or situation.

“Whenever we see animal abuse, we first and foremost are concerned about the animals. But then, our attention focuses and shifts to people directly in relation to the animal abuse, and wondering what risk they’re at,” Moravec says. “Because if that person feels it’s okay to abuse an animal, it’s one incident away from abusing a human, and that’s where we get really concerned, especially if there might be children involved.”

“This gentleman, if he’s okay with doing that to the dog in public, it makes me fearful for what he’s doing behind closed doors,” Stromberg says.

Moravec says if you see or suspect any sort of animal abuse or cruelty, to contact animal control, local authorities, or a veterinarian.

“Pet ownership is not only a responsibility, but it’s a privilege. People who treat animals inhumanely should have that privilege revoked from them,” Dr. Moravec says.

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