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Durango man faces animal cruelty charge for duct-taping dog's mouth shut

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Aug 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-04 15:10:42-04

DURANGO, Colo. – A 23-year-old man in Durango faces an animal cruelty charge for allegedly duct-taping his dog’s mouth shut and leaving the animal in his parked car.

The Durango Herald reports Thomas Ethridge, who just moved to Durango recently and has been living out of his car while he looks for work, left the Belgian Malinois, named Appa, in his car while he showered at the Durango Community Recreation Center on July 18. Bypassers spotted the animal and called 911.

Ethridge told the Herald he taped Appa’s mouth shut because earlier in the day, the dog had been eating items in the car that made him sick and Ethridge wanted to prevent that from happening again while he was gone. Ethridge also was concerned that Appa might try to attack someone through the car’s open window, he said.

“I didn’t do this maliciously or to harm him,” Ethridge said. “I don’t think what I did was the extreme animal abuse of the century, but I understand it is against the law. I totally accept what I did and the punishment for it.”

Ethridge faces a minimum sentence of six months in prison or a $500 fine, or both.

He is scheduled to appear in La Plata County Court on Aug. 23.