DENVER, Colo. (KUSA) - A man accused of stabbing a 6-month-old puppy in the face and causing it serious injuries has been formally charged.
On Thursday, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey charged Matthew D. Weatherspoon with one count of aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony.
Weatherspoon, 19, allegedly stabbed a puppy several times in the head and face on June 27 and then put the dog outside. The puppy was found by a passerby who called police.
Weatherspoon was arrested without incident.
Weatherspoon defended himself in an interview with 9Wants to Know on Wednesday night. He says he knifed the American Bulldog puppy in the face in self defense.
The puppy, Diamond, is recovering at the VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital where she is still in intensive care after surgery.
Weatherspoon doesn't deny he nearly cut the dog's face off with a knife. Through a videophone at the Denver Jail on Wednesday, he claimed the dog attacked him and cornered him in his apartment.
"I can imagine [people are angry], but no one knows what goes on behind closed doors," he said. "I'm angry at myself too, but I had no clue what to do at the time. I was panicking. It was either fight or flight. That's what went through my mind."
Weatherspoon says he had no choice but to defend himself.
"The only people who can sympathize with me are the people who have been attacked by animals. I'm not a crocodile hunter. I don't know how to deal with animal attacks other than to defend myself," he said.
He does not have any visible bite marks but he says he does have injuries.
"I do," he said. "She chipped my tooth. And my arm's all scratched up."
VCA Alameda East spokesperson Laura Immel says they have received hundreds of phone calls and emails from people interested in Diamond, but the dog is not available for adoption.
According to Denver Animal Control Director Doug Kelley, Diamond will most likely remain at the animal hospital for at least another week, and then will probably be moved to the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter.
Kelley says there are several factors that will determine how long it might take for Diamond to be adopted.
"If she needs continuing medical care on a regular basis, then we will probably look to one of our partners that have 24-hour care or that degree of capability to provide that care," Kelley said.
How long Diamond might have to stay with one of those providers would depend on her overall health.
Kelley also said Diamond's mental health will also determine if she's ready for a new owner.
"We don't know what she experienced even before this situation and it wouldn't be unusual for her to have been in an abusive situation before that. We just don't know," Kelley said.
"The dog is young so there is a very good possibility that she is suffering some trauma from that situation," Kelley said. "There are some wonderful animal behaviorists, trainers that can help work through that process."
Kelley says the dog would be monitored and subjected to a standardized behavioral test before any sort of adoption.
Kelley says the speed of the adoption process will hinge on whether or not Weatherspoon wants to keep the dog. He says he hopes Weatherspoon relinquishes his ownership of the dog, but if he decides to keep Diamond, Kelley says the shelter will ask the court not to allow Weatherspoon to continue his ownership of the dog.
The Denver Municipal Animal Shelter and Colorado's Helping Hands Foundation is helping to cover the medical expenses. If you wish to help her and other animals in similar situations, you can make a donation at www.HelpingCritters.org.
VCA Alameda East has received about $1,000 in donations, but are still short of the money needed to cover the dog's medical bills.
Weatherspoon has a criminal history that includes charges for assault, resisting arrest and drug possession.
He remains in custody in the Denver Detention Center. His bond is set at $2,000. He is scheduled to appear in court the morning of July 6.