The suburban Boca Raton teen who beat a 4-month-old pit bull to death last year after the puppy urinated on the floor was sentenced Thursday to a month in jail, a year on house arrest and another two years of probation.
The plea deal for 19-year-old Kevin Braganca comes nearly a year after the April death of Tank, one of two pit bulls who lived in an apartment with Braganca, his girlfriend and another roommate at Arbor Oaks south of Glades Road on State Road 7.
Maintenance workers and others at the building said they heard and saw someone from the apartment beating a yelping dog, then dragging the dog back to an apartment. A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy later traced the complaint back to Braganca’s apartment, but he told them that the puppy had died at a veterinarian’s office.
Braganca told authorities that he "spanked" the puppy after it urinated on the floor of the apartment, and both he and his girlfriend said they spanked both their dogs, but usually on their backsides "because that area is harder and tougher." They said they took Tank to the vet after the puppy began foaming at the mouth and didn’t know how he died, but a veterinarian said he bled to death internally from injuries that included a lacerated liver.
The veterinarian said the dog also had bruises on his head and two broken teeth in his mouth — all injuries the veterinarian attributed to abuse. Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control officer Adam Moulton in his report said that most puppy owners understand that accidents are just part of the house-training process.
"When a puppy urinates on the floor most reasonable people would clean the floor and continue trying to potty-train their animal," he wrote. "Kevin Braganca instead opted to physically beat his puppy until he lacerated its liver."
As part of the plea agreement between Assistant State Attorney Judith Arco and defense attorney Douglas Rudman, Palm Beach Circuit Judge Charles Burton agreed Thursday to withhold a finding a guilt against Braganca on the felony cruelty to animals charge. The 30-day jail sentence will be followed by three years of probation, but the first year will be on house arrest, Burton ruled as part of the agreement.
Braganca under the terms of the agreement will also never be allowed to own an animal again, and probation officers will have the right to make unannounced checks at his home to see whether he has any animals there. He will also have to undergo a psychological evaluation within a month of his release from jail and will be required to complete any recommended treatment.