WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Girard man purportedly captured on cell phone video punching his dog was ordered to forfeit ownership of the animal in court Thursday.
John Giordano was also sentenced to one year of probation and must pay a fine after he was convicted of animal cruelty last month.
Giordano said he plans to appeal, saying he never abused his rottweiler, Hazard.
The video, taken by a neighbor and shown in court, appears to show a man, identified by investigators as Giordano, grabbing the dog’s collar and hitting it with a closed fist. Giordano said he was rough-housing with Hazard after the dog knocked him down.
“I don’t know why everyone is freaking out over a few seconds of video,” he said. “That has nothing to do with what everybody thinks. I didn’t do any of that. I would never hurt that dog. I don’t have to. He’s a great dog.”
The Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County took Hazard after charges were filed. A report by the Learning Dog in Hubbard stated the dog showed signs of being abused.
Giordano brought three witnesses in court Thursday who each said Hazard was treated well.
“He was taken out of his house, scared. He doesn’t know these people. He knows his life he had. He was friends with everybody,” Giordano said of the dog.
Judge Jeffrey Adler said the incident was clearly abuse, however.
“We’ve all smacked our dogs. I think we can say that… But this was beyond a smacking of the dog. I mean, the police report indicates that he did knee the rottweiler to the ground and hit the dog with a closed fist,” he said.
Sitting in the front row in court and wearing shirts that showed support of prison time for animal abusers were members of Nitro’s Army, an animal activist group. They had mixed reactions on Giordano’s punishment.
“I will say, we are very disappointed. We were hoping he’d get some jail time. Unfortunately, he didn’t, but our most important thing is the safety of the dogs,” said Beverly Spicer., of Nitro’s Army.
Hazard will stay with the Animal Welfare League until a permanent home is found. A Welfare League representative says Hazard’s behavior has improved over the last few months.