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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Police advise dog abuse charges

Suspect had been turned away after turning himself in

A man accused of beating a dog outside Spokane City Hall in June tried to turn himself in last week but was turned away because charges hadn’t been filed.

An arrest warrant was issued for Michael J. Jones, 20, Friday morning after police filed a charging recommendation of first-degree animal cruelty late Thursday, said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Rachel Sterett.

Jones hadn’t been charged previously because “we didn’t have a charging request from law enforcement,” Sterett said. Police weren’t available for comment.

Jones is accused of throwing a 5-pound shih tzu named Cocoa Butter against a wall by her leash after smashing out a car window and pulling the dog from the car June 22.

The dog’s owners, Louise and Tom Tuffin, returned from a movie to find the badly injured dog on the sidewalk.

The incident was caught on surveillance video, and Crime Stoppers issued a reward for Jones’ capture.

Jones’ lawyer, Chris Bugbee, said in a statement Friday that he and Jones, who is not in custody, have met with law enforcement investigating the case.

“Mr. Jones, his family, his friends and his attorneys share the public’s concern for the well-being of the animal and its owner(s),” the statement reads. “… Please remember that he enjoys the same presumption of innocence that all citizens enjoy until proven otherwise.”

Four-year-old Cocoa Butter has had an “amazing” recovery, Louise Tuffin said Friday.

“She’s just inched back slowly, slowly, slowly,” Tuffin said. “She really looks like she’s not hurt at all when you look at her, but that’s a little bit deceiving.”

The dog will start acupuncture next week to help nerve damage in her neck, Tuffin said.