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Angry mob descends on home of Bat Yam man seen beating dog

Police struggle to arrest suspect as hundreds, led by celebrity bodybuilder Mishel Taroni, seek to lay their hands on him

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Screen capture from a video of a Bat Yam man abusing a dog, which went viral in . (Channel 12)
Screen capture from a video of a Bat Yam man abusing a dog, which went viral in . (Channel 12)

Hundreds of people gathered overnight Tuesday outside the home of a Bat Yam man who was seen in videos beating a dog, and police who arrived to arrest the suspect for alleged animal abuse offenses struggled to reach him and bring him out to a waiting patrol car.

The man was eventually taken out through a rear exit of the building, Hebrew media reported.

“Following reports received about a suspicion of abuse of a dog by its owner in Bat Yam, officers arrived at the suspect’s home with the intention of arresting him and rescuing the dog,” the Israel Police said in a statement.

“Dozens of people gathered at the site and prevented him being brought out to a patrol car,” the statement said.

Police said reinforcements were called in and the suspect was eventually arrested.

In the videos, the man was seen pinning down the whimpering dog and then beating it with his hands or a belt. The clips were received by animal rights groups, Channel 12 reported.

The footage was posted on social media and rapidly shared, with some users identifying the man, who is apparently originally from New York.

Screen capture from video of celebrity bodybuilder Mishel Taroni, left, accosts a man suspected of abusing a dog in Bat Yam, October 6, 2020. (Facebook)

The Haifa Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported the abuse to the Agriculture Ministry, which then informed police. Many social media users also reportedly appealed to police to take action.

But before officers could arrive at the man’s home, celebrity bodybuilder Mishel Taroni, who campaigns for animal rights, and a handful of others turned up at the premises and took the dog away.

Video posted on Facebook showed Taroni shouting at the man as he sat on the floor in the entrance to the small apartment, appearing to be both confused and alarmed.

As activists took the dog away, the man protested, explaining in both Hebrew and English that it was not his animal. However, amid scuffles between Taroni and others who tried to get at the man, the dog was removed.

Other video from the evening showed police officers pushing their way through the crowds outside the building and in the stairwell to the apartment as they tried to arrest the suspect.

A police spokesperson told Channel 13 in an interview that the crowd apparently wanted to take justice into its own hands.

Among those who joined the angry mob was Bat Yam Mayor Zvika Brot, according to Hebrew media reports.

The crowds did not appear to be keeping to coronavirus lockdown restrictions on social distancing and limits on public gatherings to groups of no more than 20 people.

The suspect was to be brought before a judge for a remand hearing on Wednesday.

The Agriculture Ministry said in a statement that the dog was taken to an animal shelter.

בעקבות דיווח שהתקבל הערב במוקד משרד החקלאות אודות חשד להתעללות קשה בכלב האסקי מעורב בבת ים, מפקחי משרד החקלאות בשיתוף Israel Police – משטרת ישראל הגיעו לפני מספר דקות למקום והחרימו את הכלב. הכלב הועבר להמשך טיפול במתקן המוגן של משרד החקלאות. ???? המשרד קורא לציבור להמשיך ולדווח על כל חשד לעבירה על חוק צער בעלי חיים למוקד משרד החקלאות הפעיל 24.7, בטלפון מספר 03-9559911

Posted by ‎משרד החקלאות ופיתוח הכפר‎ on Tuesday, October 6, 2020

 

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