MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A Montgomery man has been indicted in an animal cruelty case involving his pets.
Humane officers say he severely beat his dogs in the backyard of his home, including with the handle of an ax.
Witnesses helped led to the rescue of the animals, who officials say were injured from multiple beatings.
Horace Lee Thomas, 60, was arrested Wednesday after a Montgomery County Grand Jury found that he "intentionally tortured" a dog at his home on Chestnut Street, not far off of Highland Avenue.
In September of 2016, authorities responded to a complaint at Thomas' house. Witnesses said he was striking a dog with a weapon.
"The Humane Officer Division received several calls in relation to Mr. Thomas stating that he was injuring his dogs. He was hitting them with an ax handle and they had multiple injuries," said Montgomery County Humane Officer Robert Bryant.
Three dogs were removed from the property- a shepherd mix, chow mix and Labrador retriever. They were taken to a local veterinarian for evaluation.
According to Bryant, after exams, tests, ultrasounds and x-rays, the vet's office found evidence that the animals suffered "many traumatic events."
They had broken and missing teeth, broken ribs, broken ankles, puncture wounds and lacerations, and deep bruising and scarring. All three dogs were heavily infested with fleas.
It's believed they suffered repeated beatings at the hands of their former owner.
The case was turned over to a grand jury and an indictment was handed down last week, leading to Thomas' arrest.
He has been charged with Dog/Cat Cruelty 1st Degree, which is a felony.
There was a previous complaint that Thomas was chasing after one of his dogs with a baseball bat to get it back in the yard, but the complainant refused to give a statement to authorities and refused to go to court.
Thomas' indictment stated he "did intentionally torture any dog, to-wit: by striking with a baseball bat and/or ax handle and/or other blunt object."
Humane officers applauded those in the community who stepped forward to report the alleged abuse.
"All of our animal cruelty cases are initiated by someone in the public who makes the initial complaint. without those out there, we would never know about these situations. Once they bring them to our attention, we do what we can to investigate them and bring them to a just end," Bryant said.
Two of the dogs were eventually adopted and the third is being cared for at the Montgomery Humane Society.
"They should be able to live happily in their new homes from here on out," Bryant said.
There was another incident of animal abuse in the same area of Montgomery three years ago on Cherry Street, not far from Chestnut Street.
Michael Andrew Harper was ordered to spend two years behind bars after beating his puppy named "Tank" unconscious.
A neighbor reportedly witnessed the abuse and notified authorities.
Montgomery humane officials said at the time the puppy made a mistake inside the house, sparking a sudden burst of rage from Harper. Neighbors reported seeing him throw the dog outside the back door, at which time Tank hit his dog house. Harper was then seen hitting and kicking the small dog.
Officers responded to the scene and found the 10-week-old mixed breed puppy motionless. He was taken to a local veterinarian's office for treatment of multiple injuries.
Tank recovered from his wounds and has since been adopted.