Example of a pit bull. This dog was not believed to be involved in biting, but Pit Bulls are widely assumed to be aggressive.

An outraged poodle owner accused of fatally slashing the throat of a pit bull after the big dog killed the man’s small pet must be tried on felony animal cruelty charges, a judge ruled Thursday.

According to law enforcement investigators, the man’s attack on the pit bull would have probably been justified while the doomed poodle was being attacked, but charges were filed because the pit bull “Devo” died when its throat was slashed after it was forced to release the poodle.

Rudy Jesus Barajas, 31, was arrested last Christmas Eve following the death of 2-year-old “Devo.”

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Samuel Diaz found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on two counts of animal cruelty. Diaz scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for June 29.

Barajas is free on a $10,000 bond.

About 10 a.m. last Dec. 24, the defendant’s poodle was roaming around the yard in front of his house in the 4900 block of Hollyhock Lane, near Pierce Street, when it was spotted by Devo, prompting the pit bull to trot out of its yard and onto Barajas’ property, according to the county Department of Animal Services.

The pit bull attacked the poodle, clamping down on its neck and carrying it into the street, according to animal services Officer Max Morales.

Barajas, his stepfather and another man heard the poodle yelping and ran to its aid, using physical force on Devo in an attempt to free the small dog, Morales said.

The pit’s owner, a woman whose name was not released, heard the commotion and emerged from her house, allegedly witnessing Barajas pulling Devo onto his property, where the canine finally let go of the fatally injured poodle.

Witnesses told animal control and police officers that the defendant dragged Devo into his kitchen, grabbed a knife and slit the dog’s throat.

According to Morales, Devo staggered back onto his owner’s lawn and collapsed. The woman loaded him into her vehicle and headed for a veterinary clinic, but the dog died en route.

At the time, investigators stated that Barajas had the right to defend his pet and safely extricate it, but not to employ deadly force after the poodle had been released.

The defendant was arrested without incident that afternoon and posted bail on Christmas Day.

He has no prior documented felony or misdemeanor convictions.

–City News Service

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