[CAUTION: GRAPHIC CONTENT]
EL MIRAGE, Ariz. - An El Mirage man has been arrested in a horrible case of animal cruelty. Police say he set traps for his neighbor's dog, who had been wandering into his yard.
On December 18, officers responded to the area of 14000 N. 130th Ave when a passing neighbor called 911 to report seeing a dog caught in traps and suffering.
They arrived to find a 2-year-old Australian cattle dog's front left foot and back left foot trapped in the front yard of the property.
The dog was covered in blood and in desperate need of medical attention.
Surprise Animal Control and Maricopa Animal Care and Control responded to help rescue the dog from the traps. The owner was notified and together they brought the dog to an animal hospital for treatment.
The owner of the property, 44-year-old Russell Files, admitted to setting the traps intentionally to catch his neighbor's dog, who kept escaping her property and wouldn't keep off his property.
Court documents show an animal skull which still had hair and flesh on it had been placed near the trap -- as though the dog had been baited.
The dog's veterinarian said she lost a large number of teeth trying to chew her way out of the traps and suffered severe injury to her mouth. The gums were split open and her jaw bone was exposed on both sides. Pieces of metal were also observed in the jaw bone, and the dog will need extensive surgery and dental work just to eat normally, the veterinarian reported.
Russell Files was booked into Maricopa County Jail on 1 count of felony animal cruelty. The dog's owner received a citation for "dog at large."
Files said he set the traps for the safety and welfare of his family, claiming the dog had bit him once, but there were no records of him being bit or a "vicious dog" in the area. Files did make two complaints of a roaming dog near his home, documents show.
Authorities were unable to find any neighbors who could verify the dog was "vicious."